FORT LAUDERDALE -- The Phocuswright Innovation Summit began
Tuesday morning, featuring the first half of two dozen startups and emerging
companies competing for recognition and a $100,000 prize.
The summit kicked off the first full day of programming at
the 2017 Phocuswright Conference.
"Technology forms the backbone of the travel
hospitality industry. Innovation fuels that advancement in technology to create
efficiencies across the ecosystem," Pete Comeau, senior vice president of
sales and marketing at Phocuswright, said while introducing the Summit.
Before the summit, Phocuswright held several Battlegrounds --
an early-stage underfunded startup competition -- in the past year at events in
California, India and Europe. Several winners advanced to the summit stage from
the Battleground events.
Comeau also said Phocuswright accepted applications from
around the world from companies interested in participating.
"Summit is the result of a year's worth of scouring the
globe to find the most interesting companies to present to you today," he
A total of 24 were set to present on Tuesday, what Comeau
called a "curated group" populated with unique startups.
They had six minutes to give a presentation on their
company, and another 3.5 minutes to answer questions from the Dragons Panel, a
group of judges.
During the morning session, 12 startups presented, including
Maidbot, a hotel-cleaning vacuuming robot inspired by the Jetsons' robot maid
Rosie; Mezi, a travel chatbot using a hybrid of artificial intelligence and
human agents; and Beach-Inspector.com, a startup dedicated to providing
high-quality rich content and data about the world's beach destinations.
Another dozen startups presented during the afternoon
According to Lorraine Sileo, Phocuswright's senior vice
president of research and business operations, this year's conference has 1,600
delegates in attendance from 40 countries.
"Travel is an
amazing industry, especially in the way it reinvents itself year after year,"
she told the crowd just prior to the summit's start. "You are the risk
takers and we thrive on your ideas. You are here because you are the ones
creating our industry's future."