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By Gianni Cataldo

Head of Research & Development

With over twenty years of leadership experience in global travel technology companies, Gianni is an innovative technology leader with extensive experience in curating and launching travel product solutions.  Most recently, Gianni established an innovation labs strategy at ATPCO, partnering with early-stage startups and global airline brands to identify and leverage disruptive technologies, to drive new revenue streams.

Five Secrets for Building a Platform for Industry Innovation

Innovation is a catchword that is often touted but rarely executed.

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It’s easy for a company that’s been around for more than 50 years to just keep trundling along as always—but we haven’t. This is what we learned as we embraced innovation and got Bridge Labs, our innovation hub, off the ground.   
 
Secret 1: Have a Clear-Cut Mission  
Nine months ago, I joined ATPCO with a mandate to build up our platform for industry innovation. R&D had developed an exciting suite of capabilities redefining how consumers of our data would interact with us. It was a game-changer: Creating a new generation of products that produced fully priced itineraries via a standard query response API mechanism for every product an airline offered in every market it operated. It reduced development overhead and was the catalyst for an ecosystem of new entrants who could deliver innovative B2B and B2C experiences. Hence, ATPCO’s Bridge Labs was born—to leverage industry expertise, technology, data, connections, reach, and resources. Now we just needed friends to join us.  
 
Secret 2: Embrace the Startup Community and Industry Innovators  
As an innovation marketplace, we sought early-stage travel startups, emerging companies, technology innovators, and airline team players who wanted to take products to the next level. Their candor and immediate feedback helped us identify gaps and how to make our product successful. Typically, many of these groups wouldn’t consider ATPCO a solution provider, but that’s the benefit of Bridge Labs—it’s the on-ramp to airline industry innovation.  
 
Secret 3: Build Demand and Drive Engagement  

No matter how great you think your offering is, you still have to spark interest. We are a small team and had to be thrifty in managing the community, so we wanted to create a cachet of exclusivity to drive competition for access to Bridge Labs. We developed a compelling story and one of our heads dedicated half his time to pitching the hell out of Bridge Labs. This, combined with excellent support from our marketing team, was invaluable for generating excitement and demand that we could handle.
 
Secret 4: Don’t Forget … Content Is King
With the community ready, we then focused on providing the right breadth of data to present in a safe, controlled way to limit cannibalization of existing production data sets. We charged through this roadblock by developing our own in-house parser for “public only” content and delayed publication by one week to Bridge Labs. This capability of having a constant, rich data feed for testing is a new and valuable asset for ATPCO.
 
Secret 5: Success Breeds Success!
Our community grows every week. To date, 30 candidates are in various stages of the incubation process, as we provide real data to them, they provide immediate (sometimes painful) feedback. It might have taken years to organically develop the depth of engagement and feedback we have received in just a few short months.
 
Nine available APIs have been exposed in ways never before seen at ATPCO. Some are pure R&D dreams and may never see the light of day, but they’re in use now and generating interest. Others are robust new products that will be made available to customers in the future, with the advantage of being field-tested by the Bridge Labs community.
 
We also had some unexpected outcomes within our own organization. Product teams at ATPCO use Bridge Labs to gain access to functionality quickly, and the Sales team now has a new way to provide test access to traditional customers.  
 
Bonus Secret: Connect With Us  
If you have a passion for developing the next generation of travel tools and need access to robust airline product content, check us out:  

  • IATA’s Airline Industry Retailing Hackathon, in Washington, DC, on 8-10 June, where we will expose new Bridge Labs APIs.  
  • Travel Tech Con in San Francisco, CA, on 8-10 June, where I will be judging participants in the startup pitch competition.
  • Elevate 2018 in Washington, DC, on 9-11 October, where we will have an Innovation Forum as part of ATPCO’s annual global conference. It’s a great opportunity to see industry innovators showcasing inventive solutions using Bridge Labs data in the marketplace.  

 
Ready to get started? We are! Connect with us.