Questioning the travel industry status quo, one blog post at a time

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TEAM AMADEUS WINS IATA NDC API HACKATHON CONTEST IN DUBAI

COMPANY TAKES HOME $6,000* IN PRIZE MONEY AND EARNS PRODUCT INCUBATION PERIOD

This past weekend, the IATA NDC Hackathon took place in Dubai. This was the first hackathon I have attended and I have to say I was impressed. Over 100 young and enthusiastic developers, representing 24 teams in size from one person to eight (Amadeus had the 8-person team), converged on the Emirates HQ in Dubai. For 28 hours, these teams worked away innovating and creating travel-related applications utilizing the available NDC APIs. Farelogix was present with some technical engineers to support and help out those teams developing against the Emirates and/or American Airlines APIs.

Unlike the teams participating in the hackathon, I admit that I did not spend the night, opting instead to head back to the JW for my cushy bed and pillows, selflessly not wanting to deprive the deserving developers of one of the oversized futon cushions scattered throughout.

I did make it back on Saturday in time for the team demonstrations. 20 of the 24 teams qualified to demonstrate. A quick four minutes for presentation and demo, and one minute of questions from the judges. This part was absolutely great. Certified geeks from high school, college, and small startups, all jumping on stage to show off their work. Some awkward with a microphone, some running out of time before getting to their demos, and even a few technical glitches.

But here is what I saw. Passion and drive. Unencumbered belief that they could find a niche or vein of opportunity within an industry that has generally been less than open to innovation and outsiders. I saw fresh blood and it made me feel really good. I saw this group of innovators crack the code of ancillary delivery without the self-imposed hurdles of our status quo.  Kudos to the IATA team for a job well done!

I also saw Team Amadeus blow everyone else away. Their team of eight, which I have no doubt was comprised of seasoned developers, put on a show and it was a very cool concept and app. They clearly worked hard and it looked like they had fun. But, I have to admit that I was surprised to see Amadeus participating in an IATA NDC API hackathon.

The idea behind a hackathon is to recruit fresh talent, encourage industry innovation by a new generation of developers creating new apps in an unreasonably short timeframe, and of course, there is always great prize money and other incentives for the winner.

What surprised me about Amadeus (or any other well-established company for that matter) competing in this event is that they are already the 800 pound gorilla in the industry. In my eyes, hackathons are about finding those needle-in-the-haystack innovators – the ones that fly under the radar and are mostly hidden away from the rest of an industry, yet have some brilliant ideas that everyone should know about. It was kind of like Google participating in a hackathon on consumer search and then winning the competition with their Google developer team.

Look, I am not trying to take away anything from the Amadeus folks that worked so hard through the night. They did a great job. I am simply saying that IATA, through this outstanding NDC API hackathon initiative, is attempting to stimulate innovation and competition in our generally otherwise stagnant industry that long ago abandoned the stewardship role and encouragement of new entrants. Ours is an industry in need of fresh and innovative new ideas, and I don’t see how a $6,000 prize pack and product incubation period being awarded to Amadeus is going to encourage the next generation of travel industry developers to participate in future events, especially if there is absolutely no chance they can ever win against the 800lb gorilla’s “A” Team.

As we have never been a company to point out a problem without offering a solution, Farelogix plans to donate $5,000 to IATA to either award to a new co-winner or apply it to the next NDC API Hackathon.

Looking forward to the next IATA NDC API Hackathon.

 

*Hackathon first place prize money was $5,000, which was awarded by IATA, and a $1,000 Amazon gift card from SITA.