(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)
A new program from 1776 has resources for travel startups looking to go places with some big players in the industry.
In September, the innovation hub is hosting the first edition of the Travel Experience Incubator Challenge at its Crystal City campus. 1776 is partnering with hotel giant Marriott and Accenture Interactive.
The 90-day program is open to startups from anywhere. While travel is a broad area, categories specified include travel discovery, planning, hospitality experiences and customer engagement.
1776 CEO Evan Burfield said they will look to accept up to six companies, each of whom will get $5,000, as well as lodging and travel costs covered.
Along with the programming , connections to the larger partners will help. Marriott International has 6,000 properties. Accenture Digital is the agency arm of consulting giant Accenture, and has connections to many more travel companies.
The companies will offer expertise, but Burfield said the program is also designed to provide business connections. As a result, they’re seeking startups that are past the idea stage.
“We want to find companies that are ready to come in, engage with this network and really craft and co-create business relationships with Marriott and other travel organizations through Accenture,” he said.
With Marriott being headquartered in Bethesda, Md., it’s also a sign of the area’s larger companies seeking to work with startups as they look to bring new offerings. The company has its own hotel lab, and even opened an entire new hotel to try out concepts in Charlotte last year. When considering the companies in the D.C. region that are well-positioned to help drive innovation, Burfied said Marriott would be “right at the top of that list.”
It follows news that 1776 will also host a transportation-focused cohort at 1776 in Crystal City this fall, as well.
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