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Can Emerging Tech Help The Travel Industry Bounce Back?

May 21, 2020 / Guest Author

By Meagan Metzger, Dcode CEO and Patrick Flanagan, Pangiam CEO


We face a critical moment in commercial trade and travel as the nation thinks through how to restart the economy and get back to work. While we look forward to the day when we can ease social distancing measures, we clearly must prepare for a new normal. The post-pandemic world is an opportunity to challenge “the way it’s always been done” and leverage emerging technologies to meet today’s and future challenges.

Aside from the recent dramatic decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade and travel are tremendous growth markets. Commercial air travel has grown year over year at a rate of 4 to 8%. Just two years ago, the economic impact of travel accounted for more than 11% of U.S. gross domestic product, contributing $2.5 trillion in total economic output and supporting nearly 16 million jobs.

The trade and travel industries represent massive market opportunities for emerging tech companies, but the complexity and risk associated with them challenges external innovation. Even outside of the COVID-19 context, regulation within these industries — and the desire to work with known, trusted partners because of the critical “no-fail” nature of travel services — make it difficult to implement cutting-edge external solutions.

As travelers, the way we move through an airport has not fundamentally changed in the last decade. We are still waiting in the same lines our parents waited in, engaging with the same outdated security process, and gleaning limited convenience that can appear disjointed even within the airport. The growth in travel demands a more seamless approach that looks to technology for solutions. Gloria Guevera, President of the World Travel and Tourism Council, highlighted this point two years ago:

“Our report identifies that between 7 and 19 million jobs can be created in Travel and Tourism across the G20 countries through timely investment in the appropriate infrastructure and by improving existing processes. This includes new technology, particularly biometrics, which can help to maximize existing aviation infrastructure bringing benefits to passengers, airlines, airports, and border control agencies.”

As we consider what a post-pandemic travel ecosystem looks like, we should identify what emerging technologies can be applied to current challenges to build a more resilient industry. What tech can we use to make the most of the physical space? Are there more effective ways to look at data to keep passengers safe? Can machine learning and AI speed throughput at checkpoints? What requirements are governments exploring that will likely need to be addressed?

The future of trade and travel as we know it feels precarious. These industries are faced with the challenge of restoring confidence in travel and preventing such stark interruptions in the future. However, there’s a real opportunity to build a better industry if we emerge from this moment with a focus on more safe, innovative, and collaborative global trade and travel.

This is why Dcode and Pangiam are launching our Trade & Travel partnership — to help bring to market the emerging tech companies that can further the response of these critical industries as quickly as possible.

We are currently at the beginning of a transformational moment, where private industry will be confronted with several challenges ranging from public perception of the safety of commercial travel to the implementation of government-imposed mandates focused on mitigating risk. Concepts such as rapid health screening or increasing responsibilities for private industry to support contact tracing in global crises must simultaneously empower airlines and airports to reduce risk while protecting privacy and civil liberties, requiring innovation and ingenuity to test, vet, and adapt.

Patrick Flanagan, CEO of Pangiam

Patrick has been driving transformation in government for nearly 15 years. Prior to Pangiam, Patrick held roles at U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Navy, the National Security Staff, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). His most recent experience was at CBP where he oversaw the strategy and expansion of its Preclearance program. His unique experience and expertise working in the U.S. Government, provides Patrick an unparalleled ability to navigate, transform, and capitalize on opportunities in the public private partnership space.

Meagan Metzger, CEO of Dcode

Meagan Metzger is the founder and CEO of Dcode, a privately owned company connecting the technology industry and government to drive commercial innovation in the federal market. Prior to Dcode, Meagan worked as Chief Operating Officer of a government-focused mobile and cloud company and Chief Strategy Officer at a government-facing IT consultancy. Meagan has worked closely in several roles with senior leadership across the Department of Defense and civilian agencies, using her expertise in federal IT acquisitions to execute a billion-dollar IT program.

Meagan serves on the advisory board for Booz Allen Hamilton’s Modzy enterprise artificial intelligence software product. She is also on the advisory board of the Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, which promotes a culture of innovation in the national security community. Evidence of her commitment to advancing women in leadership, Meagan serves as a mentor for Springboard Enterprises to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial, women-led companies through access to resources and a global community of experts.