Back from the hack: My weekend with a difference
Fresh and inspired from Berg Hansen’s recent hackathon, jury member Torild Schøien shares her take on why collaboration beyond the travel industry silo is so crucial to come up with new ideas!
Last weekend while everyone was soaking up the first rays of sunshine in Oslo, I was at a customer’s office with 150 other people, 112 of whom did not leave the office for over 24 hours, sleeping on makeshift mattresses. But, it was worth every minute of it.
What was I doing, you are probably wondering. Well, I was a mentor and jury member of the Berg Hansen hackathon which was sponsored by Amadeus. The theme is a hot topic for our industry – how can we make travel more sustainable.
Amadeus – who?
What was different at this hackathon was that not a single participant worked in the travel industry. They were a diverse bunch of cool, young people who flew in from across Norway – even as far north as Longyearbyren – with backgrounds in everything from fisheries and aquaculture to IT. One thing united them – their passion for sustainable travel.
Along with five other colleagues from Amadeus Scandinavia, we mentored the ‘hackathoners’ and guided them with, for example, how to use an Open API or define their target group.
Most of the students were not familiar with Amadeus, so this was a great opportunity for us to give more insight to our Open APIs as well as to our company and how we are connected in the travel industry. More than half of the teams based their solution on our Open APIs.
Best of the best – the winning idea
It was super-exciting to be part of the jury and it was tough to select just three winners out of 21 great ideas. In the end, we agreed that first place would go to ‘eO – Travel with a Purpose’ - the team which came up with a travel portal based on APIs from Amadeus and Google Places. The idea is concrete and straightforward: travelers choose their adventures based on sustainable search criteria, and they can even choose from three sustainable levels - ‘standard’ option by plane, ‘eo’ option by plane and train, or ‘eo2’ by rail.
Making people more conscious about their travel choices is a good place to start in the battle to make travel more sustainable. Today, when you search for travel options, you get standard criteria like fares and journey time. But, the number of ideas that came up during the hackathon related to ‘green’ alternatives showed that there is a clear need out there to display ‘green’ alternatives.
Young minds mean fresh inspiration
For me, and I think for all of us at Amadeus, it is very important to listen to the younger generation and how they think differently about sustainability and innovation. That’s why we participate in hackathons and invest in promising startups.
I hope that everyone else enjoyed the hackathon as much as me and that some of these bright young minds will go on to develop bigger and even better things. Maybe one of them will be the next Max Gouchan – the entrepreneur and external speaker at the hackathon who can inspire us all. He started out aged 17 with a lifting solution for the oil industry and, since then, he has opened up iPhone repair shops, cafes and sushi restaurants. His advice can also resonate with larger innovative companies like Amadeus.
Let me close by sharing his words of wisdom with you: “Start small. Innovate on service. Move super-fast. Give people something to talk about. Find the right partners. Don’t be afraid to try things out and test something. Tell yourself it is only a test or project so you have no pressure.”
About the author
Torild Schøien is delivery manager for the travel channel at Amadeus, based in our Oslo office. In her private and professional life, she is passionate about innovation. Torild is a strong believer that technological success is a combination of machines and humans, with people always making the difference. Like most Norwegians, she loves hiking and skiing in the mountains: “Spending time in nature is a strong reminder that we all need to protect and push for sustainable solutions in every part of our lives.” And this hackathon will not be her last!