Thursday, November 17, 2011

Innovative Travel Companies Recognized

MSNBC: Travelers face no shortage of challenges, from finding the right hotel to making the most of their vacation to knowing which restaurant recommendation to trust.

On Tuesday, 32 companies looking to make the travel experience better presented their products at the Travel Innovation Summit at this year’s PhoCusWright conference before their peers in the travel industry, a circle of critics and a panel of judges.

Among this year's winners, announced Wednesday:

GroundLink: a global, private car service that can be booked online or via mobile.

Gtrot: a website that provides travelers with targeted content such as deals or things to do in a specific city, based on their friend's social media activity through sites such as Facebook or Foursquare.

Evature: Eva, its Expert Virtual Agent, is designed to understand travel requests submitted in natural language, also known as free text.

Hipmunk: offers a flight and hotel search that now integrates with a traveler's calendar and features a heatmap for cities throughout the world based on, for example, the density of shopping or nightlife in a particular neighborhood.

ReviewPro: a customer intelligence tool that hotels can use to profit from the social web and manage their online reputation.

The judges also gave runner-up nods to two companies: Tru, a global mobile carrier, and TripLingo, a language-learning app that includes, among other things, a Slang Slider that helps travelers find the best translation.

“Travel is still very open to innovation,” Gregg Brockway, co-founder of TripIt and one of this year’s judges, told msnbc.com “I think we saw some companies that are answering really interesting problems.”

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