Tech City: Using tech to streamline travel for seniors
15:55 09 September 2015
A global platform for aging and senior care hosted its first intergenerational hackathon last week to try and improve how older people are provided for in the travel industry.
The event on August 23, hosted by Aging2.0, took place at Google’s Campus London, in Bonhill Street, bringing together designers, developers, east London seniors, care-givers and high flyers in the travel business.
The goal was to identify ways to make travel universally easier, regardless of age and ability.
Stephen Johnston, co-founder of Aging2.0, said: “Travel and tourism is the UK’s fifth biggest export sector bringing £24bn of revenue to the UK and accounting for 10 per cent of all jobs. There is a lot of innovation happening but most of it overlooks the needs of older people.
“Creating travel experiences that are accessible and inspiring for all ages will be a boost for the travel industry and help keep older people engaged and connected.”
The winning entry was called Avita, a team that created a way to make it easier to book online when older people want to travel, in a time of the declining high street travel agent.
Stephen said: “One of the big problems older people had was with sites like Tripadvisor and Expedia, where you get this mass of information and they can’t make sense of it.
“So far none of the people who have been working in the travel industry are creating solutions to help older people travel but this winning solution can actually help.”
Avita’s platform consists of a map of the world which can be filtered, including whether people need mobility – or any other type – of assistance.
The team received a cash prize, support from a chosen mentor in the Aging2.0 network, a one year free membership to Stitch – a companionship platform for adults over 50 – and two free tickets to the Aging2.0 Expo on November 19 and 20 in San Francisco, with a chance to present the concept to hundreds of senior care and tech executives and gain exposure to the US market.
Other ideas that came up during the hackathon included making services online easier to navigate, improving travel insurance offerings for over-50s and reducing isolation by making it easier to find events in local areas, and altering gloved ones remotely in an emergency if someone was out and about.
Stephen said: “We are coming into a very interesting time, when we have this massive demographic – we see a quarter of the EU is
going to be over 60 but our culture is not keeping up with our demographic.
“This means a lot of people are really missing out in being active in society. You don’t see one in four people over 60 around, they aren’t catered for or given the opportunity to contribute. Hotels in the UK got £37bn last year but they lost 16bn for not catering for old people.”
He added: “We have a requirement to make societies really inclusive but the aging component hasn’t been strongly represented and from the economic side, there is a lot of potential.”