Traveltech – how Scotland’s tourism sector transformed during Covid
We’ve just passed one year since launching Traveltech for Scotland, but our birthday cake should really have 140 candles.
That’s the current number of members of our Digital Community, and this rapid growth from a standing start is a sign of the vitality of Scotland’s tourism sector, tech sector and the sector that can bring benefits to both: traveltech.
Scotland is well placed to be a leading European traveltech hub, alongside Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona. Edinburgh is the UK’s second largest centre for traveltech companies, behind only London, and Scotland is home to traveltech stars such as Skyscanner, Whereverly, For-Sight, Criton and many others.
Indeed, Traveltech for Scotland’s funding from Scottish Enterprise’s Cluster Builder programme and the 2014–2020 European Structural and Investment Fund recognises Scotland’s advantage in the sector, with the aim of helping Scottish businesses maximise the opportunity.
The 140-candle cake also reflects the eagerness of varied businesses to support each other. Our Digital Community platform, with members across traveltech, tourism, academia and industry, is a meeting place where making connections is key.
Businesses can share knowledge, news and events; find talent and partners for collaborative projects or funding bids; and even strike up mutually beneficial client-vendor relationships.
The development of the traveltech community is one of many ways we’re supporting traveltech to unlock Scottish tourism’s future. We’re also helping entrepreneurs launch new companies, helping established tech firms move into traveltech, and helping firms secure investment and government funding for innovation.
We’re active in networks such as TCI, the World Travel Tech Forum and other clusters and communities to share best practice, promote Scottish products and services, and attract investment and talent.
Traveltech for Scotland’s first priority is to help Scotland’s leading tech talent supply chain drive the recovery in the travel and tourism sectors, badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. And our longer-term mission is to continue to drive tech-led innovation beyond that immediate resurgence.
Just as shops embraced click-and-collect and contactless payments, so travel and tourism businesses from sole traders to multi-million-pound corporations needed to pivot quickly to survive in the new reality.
The innovation and agility shown by established companies such as Criton, Whereverly, For-Sight, Stampede, Qikserve, Traveltek, TravelNest, Bookster, The List and Red61, and Red61, and emerging start-ups NextChain and Swurf illustrate the rich vein Scotland can tap, and the way Traveltech for Scotland can lend support.
Another such example, Electrek Explorer, is on a mission to tackle the climate crisis by promoting low-carbon, electric vehicle travel and nature-based tourism. The company curates exploration of the natural world by electric cars, bikes and campervans and is developing an app that connects carbon-conscious explorers with nature sites through electric-powered road trips, bike trails and other activities.
We helped Electrek Explorer make connections with tourism networks, academic expertise and data sources.
Founder Elaine Ford says: “Being part of the traveltech community has been fantastic for meeting new people, and feeling connected to a broader community of interest working on tackling the climate crisis, focused on using new travel technologies.”
Similarly, Whereverly’s smartphone apps make travellers’ journeys memorable and embrace local culture and commerce through specially designed driving and touring routes, walks and cycles, incorporating songs and stories in collaboration with local experts.
Whereverly Managing Director Iain McNeill says: “Traveltech for Scotland has made us aware of and supported us in getting innovation support from much further afield than we would ever have considered before.”
Scotland has the talent and entrepreneurial ecosystem to enable its tourism industry to emerge from the pandemic not just restored but with a new energy and innovative spirit. Traveltech for Scotland is here to help that happen, one birthday candle at a time.