IBM Watson powers WayBlazer, a new travel insights firm in Austin

IBM Watson Ecosystem, launched last year, has found many takers in the industry, the latest being WayBlazer, an IBM Watson-powered innovation for the travel industry.

The Austin, Texas-based WayBlazer is a travel inspiration, recommendation and planning platform that provides travel industry professionals with the ability to deliver more personalized, relevant and valuable travel information to consumers.

WayBlazer utilizes the cognitive power of IBM Watson to address the growing issue of the sheer breadth of options and data required for travelers planning their next destination.

The company’s flagship technology platform, the WayBlazer Insight Engine, leverages the power of a standards-based cognitive cloud from Cognitive Scale which is powered by IBM Watson technology to streamline the online travel research, planning and booking process.

Launching of WayBlazer powered by IBM WatsonThe system can process massive amounts of information and organize it, infuse it with intelligence, personalize it, and help learn more with each use.

WayBlazer is formed by a group of industry pioneers in the travel and technology field. The venture, according to founders, will “redefine the way consumers dream, plan, personalize and purchase travel.”

The new company is led by Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of, who serves as chairman; Manoj Saxena, former General Manager of the IBM Watson Group, is co-founder and early investor.

WayBlazer will form the industry’s most robust travel concierge by letting its customers ask questions using a natural language interface, company officials say. WayBlazer links places, offers, and preferences, with social, cultural and economic data to recommend targeted travel insights and commerce offers that are tailored and customized for each consumer’s experience.

Explaining the features of WayBlazer, Jones said, “WayBlazer makes sense of the information overload and presents it to consumers as a personal travel concierge.  Travel suppliers from destinations and hotels to airlines and rental car sites can use WayBlazer to provide a one-stop solution with personalized recommendations, accelerating the pace and frequency of online bookings.”

Mike Rhodin, senior vice president, IBM Watson Group, said, “WayBlazer is a great example of how Watson can be leveraged as a game changing technology, and in this case, how people plan their vacations.”

Marking its entry in the industry, WayBlazer partnered with the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau who will use this technology suite across their online channels to source valuable traveler insights to generate relevant, location-aware and bookable content and offers for Austin.

The service, according to Bureau officials, will help them create a trusted advisor for any traveler or even locals looking for something new.

IBM Watson already powers several apps developed by its Ecosystem partners in healthcare, financial services, IT services, retail, security, non-profit, and more. Some of them include Red Ant (London, UK) and Reflexis (Dedham, MA) in retail; Sellpoints (Emeryville, CA), an e-commerce technology provider; Findability Sciences (Waltham, MA), non-profit services provider; LifeLearn (Guelph, Canada), a veterinary support service; GenieMD (Pleasanton, CA), @Point of Care (Livingston, NJ), and Welltok (Denver, CO), intelligent apps for the healthcare industry; SparkCognition (Dallas, TX), a cognitive security analytics company; and CHIPS Technology Group (Syosset, NY), an IT help desk provider for small-to-mid-sized businesses.

The growing adoption of IBM Watson shows that cognitive analytics has huge demand across industries.  IBM recently announced that Mayo Clinic will pilot IBM Watson to match patients more quickly with appropriate clinical trials.

The announcement closely followed the company’s deals with top life sciences organizations including Baylor College of Medicine, Johnson & Johnson and The New York Genome Center which deployed Watson Discovery Advisor to advance discoveries in ongoing research projects.

Rajani Baburajan

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