Established firms must open up their data if consumers needs are to be met

Established businesses should open up their technology, information and supply chains to early-stage, innovative companies if future needs of customers are to be met, Gatwick chief information officer, Michael Ibbitson has said.

Speaking at the SMART London joint event with London & Partners as part of London Technology Week, Ibbitson said that only by embracing the spirit of collaboration running through London’s tech scene can big travel companies provide the seamless travel experience desired by customers.

Ibbitson said: “Business and leisure travellers are looking for a seamless end-to-end experience which combines their travel, be it by plane, train or automobile, with their hotel and airport experience.

“The travel companies that succeed in the future will be those that relax their grip on their own technology and information to work in partnerships to give their customers what they want.”

Ibbitson backed up his words by announcing that Gatwick is now sharing the airport’s operational data for the research and development community to have real time access to data via an API, on request. This follows Gatwick’s partnership with easyJet to build an app, which delivers bespoke updates and directions to passengers at the airport.

The comments come as The Traveltech Lab – an incubator created by London & Partners and The Trampery, which brings together tech start-ups and big corporates in the travel industry, announced an Associate Membership scheme to enable more start-ups to participate in the Lab’s activity.

Andrew Cooke, COO of London & Partners, said: “Over 100 companies originally applied to be part of the Traveltech Lab and as news of the initiative has spread, we are now receiving requests from companies on a daily basis that wish to join the community.

“Associate Membership will allow a larger number of companies to enjoy many of the benefits of the incubator programme including drop-in access to the lab – allowing us to expand the strong ecosystem we are creating to support and nurture the growth of tech companies in this sector.

“London has a vibrant tech scene and is one of the global centres for the travel industry. If major companies embrace partnerships and incorporate the dynamic innovation coming out of initiatives like the Traveltech Lab, London can cement its position as a global leader in travel technology.”

The Traveltech Lab, for which Gatwick was a founding partner, has gone from strength to strength since its launch by HRH, The Duke of York in March 2015. The incubator programme in London Bridge brings together technology start-ups with big corporates within the travel industry to drive innovation and success.