By Tarran Street, on February 4, 2016

Hackathon yields new travel concepts

Nearly 200 local developers gathered this past weekend at Startup Hall in Seattle to build unique travel ideas. Participants tinkered with Expedia’s APIs and developed cool travel apps and websites using various tools that power Expedia’s search results.

After arriving on Friday evening, participants gathered and eagerly discussed ideas for the weekend. Some formed teams o-nsite, meeting each other for the first time while brought together by a passion for coding. Teams brainstormed about how to solve travel challenges they have faced in the past and quickly got to work, with many coding non-stop through Saturday night.

By Sunday morning, when the work stopped and judging began, we had more than 40 teams submit concepts for preliminary judging. Our judges—John Kim, chief product officer of Expedia; Todd Bishop, co-founder and editor of GeekWire; John Samual, senior vice president of Sabre; and Tony Donohoe, CTO of Expedia—reviewed those concepts during rounds of pitches throughout the afternoon. After whittling down the group to 16 teams, our judges had their work cut out for them! At the end, only six teams left with prizes.


Here’s an overview of the winning teams and their ideas:

  • First Place: Be a Fan. This app combined Expedia flight search APIs and content from SeatGeek to allow users to find and book trips to their favorite music or sporting event. The app paired purchasing event tickets on a particular date with corresponding flight bookings. It was a crisp execution of a frequent travel problem people try to solve.
  • Second Place: Emilia. This app was a unique trip planning solution designed to help groups of people in a Facebook Messenger chats plan travel together. The app combined natural language search with prompts to encourage participants to book as the trip gets closer.
  • Third Place: TravelLapse. This app manipulated geo-tagged photos as a means of trip booking. It also paired with a cool photo lens that automatically saved pictures as part of what would become a post-trip slideshow.
  • Expedia’s Accessibility Challenge: Easy Walk. This app provided a solution for people with disabilities to map a walking route that avoids hills or other challenging terrain.
  • Sponsor Prize from Sabre: Expedia Messenger. This great mobile app allowed friends to chat with one another while planning a trip.
  • Sponsor Prize from Apigee: Plan Bandits. This app provides a trip itinerary sharing solution that allows friends to rebook the same trip you took before.

The event marked the first time Expedia has hosted a public hackathon in the region, and the enthusiasm throughout the weekend was contagious! It was great to see such ambition from the local technology community. Overall, the travel industry has plenty of room to grow, and we believe technology will help get us there. We look forward to participating in other hackathons in the future!