HBX Group, Wayra, and NYU launch the second edition of the TravelTech challenge to redefine the future of tourism

HBX Group, Wayra, and NYU SPS join forces in the TravelTech Lab challenge, seeking travel innovations using technologies like virtual reality and the metaverse.
HBX Group, Wayra, and NYU
The HBX Group’s TravelTech Lab seeks startups specializing in virtual reality and the metaverse | Photo: Pexels

The prominent group B2B HBX Group, specializing in TravelTech, has partnered with Wayra, the leading innovation hub of Telefónica, and the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality at the NYU School of Professional Studies to launch the second edition of the TravelTech Lab challenge. This initiative aims to reimagine the future of the travel sector.

These corporations, leaders in their fields, call on global startups and affiliated students to propose how emerging technologies, like virtual reality and the metaverse, can be implemented in B2B travel. The goal is to optimize processes and enhance the traveler’s experience from booking to return.

Innovation Challenge

José María Pestaña, Chief Innovation Officer of HBX Group, stated that this collaboration offers a platform to drive tangible change in TravelTech:

“Bringing together our innovation partners and the startup community is a unique opportunity for all of us, not only to learn and share ideas but also to provide a platform that instigates genuine change in the TravelTech arena. I am eager to see the emerging ideas and how we can implement them, not just to advance our technological capabilities but also to inspire future trips for tomorrow’s passengers.”

This new challenge edition comes months after the first call and less than a year since launching the innovation hub in Palma, Mallorca. From the first edition, 65 global startups participated, with HBX Group now collaborating with three standout firms.

Selected startups will benefit from expert mentoring, access to the Wayra ecosystem, and the opportunity to work directly with HBX Group on joint projects. Moreover, HBX Group offers financing of up to EUR €40,000 to materialize their ideas. They can also network with other entrepreneurs at Wayra’s hubs in Europe and Latin America, as well as HBX Group’s locations in Mallorca and Madrid.

“Strengthening our alliance and commitment with HBX Group is a privilege for Wayra. We aim to provide our extensive knowledge of the international entrepreneurial ecosystem and boost technological evolution in the travel sector, a key component of our economy, as tourism represents 20% of Spain’s GDP,” said Andrés Saborido, General Manager of Wayra.

In additional support, NYU SPS hosted a student hackathon, wherein they collaborated with industry professionals chosen by HBX Group in the U.S. This event witnessed the active participation of 26 students.

Richie Karaburun, from the Tisch Center, highlighted the steady growth of the TravelTech sector. He expressed his enthusiasm to work with HBX Group and Wayra to discover the following innovations to uplift the global travel industry.

We look forward to collaborating with HBX Group and Wayra in this challenge to find the next innovative agent in augmented technology who can help shift and evolve our industry to craft better travel experiences worldwide.”

On another note, the tourism industry was among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) indicates global recovery. About Latin America, the UNWTO has established an agreement with the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) to empower and sustain regional tourism. According to Statista Market Insights, a 60% revenue increase in tourism is anticipated for 2023 in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Brazil, projected revenues are 16.360 billion dollars in 2023, surpassing the 13.150 billion from the previous year, for instance.
Those interested can find more details and apply at traveltechlab until December 12, 2023.

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