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Travel brands should embrace technology but refine their products first

Travel brands should embrace technology but refine their products first

Fledgling travel brands were urged by an expert panel to put product before technology – but to quickly embrace the latter.

Jono Vernon-Powell, founder of Nomadic Thoughts, said start-up brands needed to remember that travel had “the best product on the planet” that should always come first. When it came to technology, he advised: “You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, lean on what is out there.”

Josh Ryan-Saha, director, Traveltech for Scotland, which advises tourism brands, agreed, but added: “You need to very quickly lean into technology.” Most businesses, he said, brought in a chief technology officer to build systems once the company was up and running.

Global Travel Collection’s UK managing director Jason Oshiokpekhai advised against building a bespoke in-house system initially: “Even with a big war chest of cash, it’s still a question of time.”

He said seeking funds from friends and family to start a business was a good idea “because then you will use it wisely”. He added: “Follow your passion, but make sure it checks with reality.”


The panel told how Barrhead Travel had undertaken three years’ worth of IT development in one year during lockdown, with a digital presence now a must for any travel brand.

Traveltech for Scotland also saw a major transition among the industry there during the pandemic with several of these trends here to stay, as Ryan-Saha explained:

“The three things we saw the most were online bookability – especially visitor attractions – then a pivot to digital experiences (like the Edinburgh Fringe Festival) and also contactless technology.”