Hotels, serviced apartments, airports, airlines, OTAs and of course investors… just some of the organisations that we met with at Web Summit 2022 last week in Lisbon, Portugal.
Web Summit is billed as the ‘world's biggest technology event’ and with 70,000 attendees descending on Lisbon it most likely earns that title. The sheer scale of the event and the number of people is overwhelming and at first, it feels unlikely that any actual use can be distilled from it. With investors being elusive, likely having packed diaries before they even arrive, and big tech co’s like Google and Siemens having stands the size of football pitches in the main conference areas, opportunities for start-ups feel like a needle in a haystack.
On the contrary, Web Summit exceeded our expectations massively. We participated as part of the Alpha programme in the hunt for opportunities and armed with the event app (which was useful in contrast to most event apps), we found it to be one of the best events we have ever attended. Through some research ahead of time on the app and its use throughout, we held several meetings either instigated by us or the other party. On Thursday we had a small stand as part of the Alpha programme which allowed those interested in what we do to come and find us for a chat, and many did.
Outside of meetings, we took in a few talks on the centre stage and side stages ranging from the Mercedes AMG F1 team principal talking about the future of technology in motorsport (lots of fanboys/girls in the audience (guilty)) to Expedia's CTO, Rathi Murthy, discussing the future of data in travel. There was also time to catch a friend of ours, Sam Jones from Gener8 delivering his stellar pitch on centre stage as part of a start-up showcase.
We met other entrepreneurs and we met investors, though mostly these were chance meetings at Night Summit or in bars during downtime. That is the unique strength of Web Summit and bringing so many thousands of people from the tech eco-system to one place, these connections could be mutually beneficial now or in the future and would not occur without getting away from our home offices.
Not only did Web Summit allow us to build our network, but it was a great opportunity to catch up on the latest in technology. In particular, we met some potential tech startups and companies that could help improve our platform, such as Jina AI. It was also great to get to see that we're building with cutting-edge technology and our Architecture is built to scale like other best-in-class platforms.
What blew us away was how the travel industry is innovating and exploring technology to improve the guest experience. The range of opportunities that met us was exceptional :
We spoke to an organisation that owns airports in Asia and is looking for a solution to help Western arrivals, who are often immediately lost and confused, to find places to go.
We spoke to a serviced apartment group operating medium-term furnished apartments to ‘bleisure’ travellers and are looking for value add to help their guests connect to the community and have a more enjoyable experience outside of the working day.
We spoke to one of the world's premier sporting organisations about their requirement to provide local information to their hospitality guests pre-arrival so that they can offer great experience outside of the event as well as their already stellar experience inside of the events.
And of course, we spoke to hotel groups looking to level up their guest experience and data insights.
Our mission at Obvlo is to create local knowledge on a global scale and our immediate priority is on accommodation in the travel market, but we are aware that this need goes far and wide. We want to help people to settle in and live like a local anywhere they go and we want to do this by supporting their host to deliver the best possible service.
I can’t pretend that we worked like dogs the whole time. We would have been remiss while in Lisbon not take make time to indulge in the occasional pastel de nata, a glass of natural wine and Francesinha. We used our own Web Summit Obvlo environment to identify restaurants, bars and brunch spots in our downtime, and it didn’t disappoint.
If you're headed to Lisbon any time soon, check out our platform which we will leave live for now.