By Emma Lewis, Tax Cloud Ireland
The global travel industry was hit especially hard by Covid-19 restrictions and Ireland is no exception. Turnover in general travel and tourism businesses fell to 26% compared with 73% in other industries, and the accommodation and travel agency industry saw their turnover drop to 9.3%. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also reported that Europe’s airline carriers could lose up to €70 billion in revenue by the time the pandemic is finally over.
But as we emerge out of Covid restrictions, Ireland is pushing the sector forward. The future is looking bright.
Ireland: a hub for world travel
As theIrish Advantage website says, “Ireland may not be the centre of the universe but when it comes to travel tech, it should be.” Indeed, travel has always been at the heard of Irish history and culture, particularly as an island nation.
Even two years after the pandemic started, more thanhalf of all leased commercial airlines are still managed from Ireland. Many of the world’s biggest names in travel and tourism also call Ireland home, including Trip Advisor, Topflight, Airbnb and Lonely Planet.
It’s fair to say, the Emerald Isle is fast becoming synonymous with travel and innovative travel technologyas a way to thrive.
What is travel technology?
Travel technology spans every aspect of travel. It includes integrated payment systems, tech-based distribution methods and intuitive tools make customer booking journeys easier. These are the kinds of things modern travellers expect, helping to revive the sector post-Covid. And there are certainly plenty ofIrish travel companies taking up the challenge:
Headquartered in Dublin, Hostelworld is an onlinebooking platform where customers can browse over 27,000 budget hotels, campsites and B&Bs online. They then make their booking and payment through the site.
Aimed primarily at backpackers, solo and younger travellers, Hostelworld has seen exponential growth since its launch back in 1999. The brand is now diversifying into other discounted travel products such as guide books, SIM cards and insurance.
Although we’re learning to live with Covid, it’s not going away. For many travellers, the thought of being in a packed airport with limited social distancing is still the stuff of nightmares.
Dublin-based company Daon has therefore been working in partnership with Denver International Airport to launch its VeriFLY app. This allows passengers to reserve a space in the security queue, choosing a quieter time if they want to. They can also select a seat on a transit to the concourse for example. It’s designed to take away some of the travel anxiety Covid has brought with it.
Let’sGetCheckedis a company located in Dublin that specialises in Covid-19 PCR testing. It has now developed a rapid 48-hour PCR testing solution which has recently been deployed by American Airlines in restartingUSA flights following travel curbs.
Choosing the right accommodation and car hire can be a real headache. But Dublin-based company CarTrawler has been working on solutions to make browsing and booking all the options much more straightforward.It’s a B2B platform providing transport solutions to around one billion business passengers each year.
Founded in Dublin back in 2011, Boxever’s latest personalisation platform uses AI and data to improve customer experience and interactionswith airlines such as Ryanair, Hong Kong Express, Emirates and Aer Lingus.
It’s centred on giving passengers a more personalised experience with the company employing around 70 people in both Dublin and Madrid.
Mobile Travel Tech (MTT)
When we’re the travelling, the one thing most of us really can’t manage without is our smartphone. They’re a popular way to check in before going to the airport, not to mention keeping track of flight updates, creating your itinerary and reading the latest news.
Mobile Travel Tech is one Dublin company that has pounced onthis opportunity by developing an integrated platform where customers can book and pay for flights and accommodation in one place. They will also receive real-time updates about their journey and their destination, straight to their phone.
How are Irish companies able to fund their innovation?
Innovation doesn’t come cheap, but the good news is there’s a broad spectrum of funding solutions on offer. Government-backedR&D Tax Credits and R&D grants in particular are vitally important to Irish companies looking to expand their services and products, both in the travel sector and more widely.
Enterprise Ireland is the gateway to many of the different funding supports aimed at inventive Irish companies. It serves to encourage the development of Ireland-based businesses on the global stage, connecting international market leaders and advancing pioneering technological projects. Not only does this drive profitability within the sector a company operates in, but across the entire Irish economy as well.
The fact is, although bookings for foreign travel are substantially up on the previous two years, there’s still a long way to go. It’s been reported that COVID-19 sucked almost €4 trillion from the worldwide travel and tourism industry in 2020; success on the long road back lies in innovation.