Takeaways from Kopi Chat Deep Dive on innovations in Travel & Aviation

Kopi Chat Deep Dive is a signature BLOCK71 event where esteemed speakers holding different roles in the industry are invited to share and speak on their views of transformation and trends.

For this instalment, we had it in conjunction with the SIA AppChallenge roadshow which officially marks it launch. It is a yearly challenge for start-ups and students to pitch their innovative solutions to business challenges faced in the aviation and travel industry.

To celebrate the forth edition of the SIA AppChallenge, BLOCK71 Singapore specially invited Jerome Thil from SIA, Ong Chun Yang from CAAS, Yeoh Siew Hoon from Web in Travel, and Zelia Leong from Anywhr to join us in our Kopi Chat Deep Dive panel, moderated by Imran Khan from Tech in Asia.

Over the last three years, the SIA AppChallenge has received over 200 applications. For this year’s AppChallenge, SIA is aiming for higher targets as the AppChallenge is opening up to global entries, expecting entrants from Japan, Taiwan, and further beyond.

Takeaways From Kopi Chat Deep Dive: Innovation in Travel and Aviation

1. Innovation is a necessary and ongoing process

The airline industry is a challenging industry. Despite new players entering in the last few years, SIA still remains ahead of its competition due to its earlier entry into the industry. However, there is a need for SIA to further improve their services to better their customers. SIA is not just about transportation from one point to another, but also has an innovation branch to advance its technologies for the better. Thus, the SIA innovation team sees opportunities to improve SIA’s service and the AppChallenge is a good avenue to achieve that goal.

2. “There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur in the travel space” — Yeoh Siew Hoon, Web in Travel

With increasing opportunities for start-ups to showcase their innovation Aside from the SIA AppChallenge, Web in Travel also runs start-up competitions twice a year. In addition, Asia is an excellent environment for aviation and travel start-ups. In the aforementioned Asian start-up competitions, start-ups from as far as Finland and Israel are attracted to compete to show their innovation and pitch their ideas to the judges.

3. Pain point: Too many choices for travellers

In the past, people wanted more choices. However, with the increasing variety of choices today, people now prefer for companies to make the decision for them. The large amount of choices cause consumer anxiety for the customer. Solving this problem would then be a great opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs and start-ups. An example would be Anywhr’s service where they decide on a travel location for the customer, removing a great deal of consumer anxiety as well as travel preparations.

4. Customer acquisition is costly in the travel industry

With such high barriers to entry in the travel industry, start-ups may find it hard to directly compete with larger players such as SIA. Thus, start-ups may find it easier to head in a B2B direction. Additionally, the hospitality landscape is fragmented, making it a good opportunity for start-ups to dive into.

5. Start-ups should foster successful relations with legacy players

Mutual understanding is important. What start-ups might see as simple may be complex behind the scenes for legacy players. They need to convey each other’s needs to operate smoothly and work well with each other.

Missed out on the SIA AppChallenge Roadshow? Check out the livestream here:

About the SIA AppChallenge

5 Problem Statements

  • Improving Mobile App Engagement
  • Offloaded Passenger Compensation Process
  • Enabling the KrisShop Experience
  • Tracking Inventory Usage
  • Tracking F&B Consumption
  • More details on the problem statements here.


Student Category:

  • 1st: All expenses paid trip to Silicon Valley with tour guides bringing students to visit tech companies such as AWS, Google, Facebook on a private and exclusive tour to see what happens behind the scenes in the headquarters of these large tech conglomerates.
  • 2nd: 50,000 Krisflyer miles per team member
  • 3rd: 30,000 Krisflyer miles per team member

Open Category:

  • 1st: Return Airfare to any Singapore Airlines destination in addition to a team prize of $5000
  • 2nd: $3000
  • 3rd: $1500


  • Pre-selection Round: 15 August — 30 September
  • Judging and Selection Round: 1 October — 10 October
  • AppChallenge Finale: 27 October

For more details on the SIA AppChallenge, visit their website at https://singaporeair.agorize.com/en/challenges/appchallenge-2018?lang=en

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