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Digital Travel Pioneer Terry Jones Launches WayBlazer, Powered by IBM Watson

First Cognitive App is a Breakthrough in $1T Online Travel Industry

NEW YORK CITY & AUSTIN, TX. - 07 Oct 2014: Industry pioneers in travel and technology are announcing WayBlazer, a company that uses leading edge technology to redefine the way consumers dream, plan, personalize and purchase travel.

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

WayBlazer utilizes the cognitive power of IBM Watson, which takes massive amounts of information and organizes it, infuses it with intelligence, personalizes it, and learns more with each use. The WayBlazer Insight Engine uses a standards-based cognitive cloud from
Cognitive Scale, which is powered by IBM Watson technology.  
 
WayBlazer addresses the growing issue of the sheer breadth of options and data required of travelers planning their next destination. On average, users explore 20 or more websites to research flight, hotel, and activity information, while weighing personal preferences and insights from social networks, online review sites and more. WayBlazer will form the industry’s most robust travel concierge by letting its customers ask questions using a natural language interface. 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.  

“To date, online trip planning has been a complex and time-consuming chore lacking a way to connect, organize and personalize data,” said Terry Jones, WayBlazer’s executive chairman and co-founder. “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.”

“When IBM opened the Watson Ecosystem last year, the goal was to attract innovators to create new cognitive apps across many different industries," said Mike Rhodin, Senior Vice President, IBM Watson Group. “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.”

WayBlazer has also 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.

“Austin has long been home to technology companies, start-ups and innovators, and with technology changing the way we travel, the Austin CVB is pleased to partner with Austin-based WayBlazer to bring this exciting travel tool to the marketplace,” said Bob Lander, Austin CVB President & CEO. “This technology is a real competitive advantage for Austin, and the functionality and industry changing capabilities that WayBlazer delivers creates a trusted travel advisor for any traveler or even locals looking for something new.”

Austin is also home to IBM’s Watson Lab. Comprised of a strong technical and academic community, Austin and greater Texas is now an innovation hub for cognitive computing.

The IBM Watson Solutions Lab excels as a development facility that benefits both IBM and its clients, with both learning from each other and exploring new areas for research and innovation.
  
About WayBlazer

Backed by The Entrepreneurs’ Fund, 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. The privately held company is based in Austin, Texas and is led by seasoned travel and technology entrepreneurs, including the founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak.com.

The company’s flagship technology platform, the WayBlazer Insight Engine, harnesses 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, resulting in higher customer satisfaction, loyalty and revenues. For more information, please visit http://www.wayblazer.com and follow WayBlazer on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

IBM Watson: Pioneering a New Era of Computing

IBM Watson represents a new era of computing in which apps and systems interact with human users more naturally, augment our knowledge with Big Data insights, and learn to improve how they assist us. 

Fueled by innovation from a mission to transform industries and professions, Watson is uniquely positioned at the forefront of the new era of computing, evidenced by an unmatched demonstration of what cognitive systems can bring to transform decision-making. IBM is delivering a range of cloud-based products and services to clients in industries such as banking, healthcare, insurance, retail and education. 

In January, 2014, IBM launched the IBM Watson Group, a new business unit dedicated to developing and commercializing cloud-delivered cognitive advisors. The move signifies a strategic shift by IBM to deliver a new class of software, services and apps that think, improve by learning, and discover insights from massive amounts of Big Data.

IBM is investing more than $1 billion in the Watson Group, focusing on research, development and bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to market. This includes $100 million earmarked for direct investment to support IBM’s ecosystem of start-ups and businesses building cognitive apps made with Watson.

For more information on IBM Watson, visit: www.ibmwatson.com

To join the social discussion about Watson, include the hashtag #ibmwatson. Follow Watson on Facebook and see Watson on YouTube and Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ibm_media/sets/72157648064706808/

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Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity and founding chairman of Kayak.com is launching a new travel company WayBlazer based on IBM Watson (Courtesy Paul Zalewski for IBM)

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