Seminars and talks are also held at the event to share knowledge and experiences to participants from the travel industry – all free of charge. Highlights include an experience-sharing session on "TakeMeTour: Perceptions from a TravelTech," a seminar on "Challenges in Thailand's Tourism Industry" from three business experts in the tourism industry on adapting to new technology and digitalization, and a seminar on "How Technology is Changing the World."
Moreover, Dr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of TAT, gave a speech at the opening ceremony on "Travel Innovation: Seeking New Ideas," discussing the opportunities and challenges of TravelTech that will attract more foreign investors to Thailand. He pointed to rankings on WorldAtlast.com that Thailand is the country with the fourth highest income from tourism with the 10th highest numbers of inbound tourists in the world. He also voiced his confidence that the potential of the country's tourism will promote businesses in the tourism industry to see continuous growth.
On the HackaTravel event, he said the activity will encourage the new generation to prepare themselves for harder competitions, and challenge them to become a part of the rapidly growing digital ecosystem. The project is expected to see participants seek new answers to challenges in the tourism industry which cannot be addressed in traditional ways which are too slow in the era of the digital transformation. Also, HackaTravel will offer new opportunities for participants to access funding as well as receive advice from related agencies and experts with direct experiences who understand the path to success for entrepreneurs.
The TAT Governor said, "TAT is offering every developer a chance to join the hackathon, where determination and passion will bring about friendship and group learning. TAT believes in the potential of the new generation in Thailand who will certainly be able to form a strong network together."
Dr. Krithpaka Boonfueng, Deputy Executive Director (Innovation System), National Innovation Agency (NIA) revealed that the NIA's mission is to develop innovations in Thailand through the Startup Thailand Center which has been nurturing the startup ecosystem and enhancing the potential of TravelTech startups to become more competitive in the international arena. NIA currently has multiple projects to promote TravelTech startups: the 3rd batch of IDE to IPO which aims to create an understanding of innovation, business development for hotel and tourism innovations and granting funds to support tourism innovations, as well as an accelerator for TravelTech which will be initiated next year.
The Deputy Executive Director stated that, "Promoting the younger generation and creating new personnel straight out of university in the Startup Thailand League as well as in this HackaTravel are ways to encourage new TravelTech for Thailand. This activity will help nurture a new generation of entrepreneurs who will drive the country's economy forward."
Noppon Anukunwithaya and Amornched Jinda-apiraksa, co-founders of TakeMeTour as the organizers of the "Create a New Era of Tourism in Thailand" and the HackaTravel said that industries worldwide – from its business model, players and structure -- have been disrupted by technology. Meanwhile, digitalization has caused a shift in consumer behavior, as new businesses are established and many are struggling to adapt or has vanished entirely. The tourism industry is one of the key drivers of the Thai economy, thus, this event is aimed at educating businesses in the tourism industry to handle the changes in the industry and be equipped to adapt their businesses. Moreover, the organizers are looking forward to promoting the new generation with innovative ideas for the tourism industry to jointly develop their business ideas into real innovation or products.
"The HackaTravel has a total of 268 participants, comprising university students in the field of software development and the general public who are working as developers. After the application period, the project has selected 90 applicants to join the competition, with the criteria that they must be experts in software development, online marketers with business acumen or experts in the tourism industry. In the selection, our judges selected a balanced proportion of developers to tourism experts, as our goal is to promote innovative ideas for the tourism industry that can be put to practical use, thus, we need participants with various skills and tourism experience to join the hackathon."
The hackathon will take place over a period of 2 full days, from April 27 to 28, 2019, at the Chulalongkorn Innovation Hub. Teams will consist of 3-6 persons, while the hackathon will have a special timeframe where teams can decide to split up to add more fun to the competition, reflecting real-world situations where businesses may go their separate ways.
The 4 challenges for the HackaTravel are 1. Emerging Destination Tourism,
2. Tools for Tourism Business, 3. Enabling Seamless Travel Experience, and 4. Smart Data. Teams may choose their own challenges.
Organizers added that, "The HackaTravel will offer participants knowledge and suggestions from experts in the fields of technology and tourism, as well as provide 300,000 baht in prize money for the winners, divided into 150,000 baht for the first prize, 100,000 baht for the first runner-up, and 50,000 baht for the second runner-up. Moreover, participants will gain further opportunities to develop their ideas into real businesses with our partners."
For more information, please visit www.takemetour.com/hackatravel