Meet Lewis: the Travel Concierge by #BuildwithSkyscanner contestant Lex Oudijk

Lex Oudijk is a #buildwithskyscanner competition entrant. Here, he shares what inspired his idea and the next steps being taken to ensure that his build will be the very best that it can be. 

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“Wouldn’t it be cool if…” could be the start of a sentence describing some of the world’s greatest and most successful ideas. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could store a file on a server and access it from everywhere on any device; if you could order a cab by pressing a button; or if you could sleep in a stranger’s bed halfway around the world.

Although I’d like to imagine most startup ideas start with the idea that something is cool, I don’t think that’s the case. I think most come from what I call a ‘positive annoyance’. For example: “I forgot my USB drive and now I don’t have my pitch, if I have this problem everyone should have it”. The annoyance of the problem not yet having been solved is accompanied by the positive feeling of wanting to fix it.

Having traveled the world twice I have certainly had my fair share of annoyances – some positive. One time, I managed to mix up Shanghai and Singapore. I was thankful to discover on arrival that Singapore was warm in January. And I’m not alone in my confusions.

Although most of us a pretty knowledgeable, tourists still show up in Amsterdam to celebrate Queensday on April 30th – outdated guidebooks don’t inform them that it is now called Kingsday and has been moved to April 27th. Google could have told them, but not everyone thinks to ask. So wouldn’t it be better if you had a virtual concierge to help you when you travel? The service of a 5-star hotel concierge in your pocket, on your phone, in the messaging app that you already use and love.

Now, I’m not saying that the virtual travel concierge idea is anywhere near as good as Dropbox, Uber and Airbnb. All I said on Twitter was “I’m ready to disrupt the #travel industry & #buildwithskyscanner”. Quite a claim, I know. But it’s true that I am ready. With all the buzz and hype around chatbots, the technology also seems ready. Now all that is left is a sublime execution.

Before we start building with Skyscanner and integrate their API we need to know what to build. That’s why I am currently running a survey among travel bloggers, influencers and experts. To ask them what they need help with. The categories deemed most useful will be built into the travel concierge. Or as I like to call it, Lewis.

Building Lewis will be a challenge; there will be uncertainty; and mistakes will be made. Someone else might have an idea that is miles better and totally unexpected. But that’s what excites me. Bots will get smarter and smarter. They will do things we can’t even imagine. And consequently, the Skyscanner API will be used for something we can’t even fathom. 

Wouldn’t it be cool if…