EyeforTravel Amsterdam

November 2018, Amsterdam

Own your Data. Master Digital. Dominate Bookings

Learn from Travel Industry Decision Makers how to Thrive in a Platform Dominated World

Why travel brands must not drop the ball

On day 1 of EyeforTravel Amsterdam, the message was clear – brands must invest in technology, build partnerships and never ignore the human touch

Everything from investing in AI while balancing the human touch to the mobile user experience and tectonic shifts in travel technology were on the keynote stage at EyeforTravel Amsterdam, which kicked off yesterday.

Alysha Smith, Global Head of Marketing, Magnuson Hotels opened the day with a question around whether brands can ‘capture the ball drop moments’ by using tech and data. As Smith explained, it is not the win itself that keeps people coming back to the roulette table, but rather those tense seconds after the ball drops – the moment of anticipation and the rush of endorphins! Smith could not stress enough the importance of the building emotional connections with guests, particularly in the light of regulations like GDPR, which makes it easier than ever for customers to withdraw consent for brands to access their data. If you capture those ‘ball drop moments’ you are able to add another layer to what would otherwise simply be a transactional relationship, Smith explained.

It is not the win itself that keeps people coming back to the roulette table, but rather those tense seconds after the ball drops

On a practical note, Smith also explained how the group is using the Kaisen Process in their data analysis - Kaizen is the Japanese word for ‘improvement’ or ‘change for the better’ and refers to activities that improve all functions in a business and harness the power of all employees from the CEO to the assembly line workers.  

Continuing with the ‘human touch’ theme later in the morning was Wijnand de Groot, VP of digital marketing and sales at KLM. If any travel company is using technology to build emotional connections it’s the Dutch carrier, which is using everything from mobile to social media and augmented reality to deliver a highly personal touch. Interestingly, de Groot indicated that already KLM has made significant investments to become a frontrunner with voice, which it sees as “the next big channel”.

De Groot stressed that while “the speed of change is changing, some things never do” and people will always value time well spent; they want to create memories and have personal connections. However, they are also becoming more demanding and travel companies will need to step up!

But it is not just voice that brands need to be thinking about into the future. Rounding up the morning keynotes was Houman Goudarzi, head of BI projects and industry engagement at IATA, who pointed to eight tectonic travel technology shifts, which include everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to blockchain, augmented and virtual reality, renewable energy, biometrics and digital identity.

According to IATA, retail investments in AI are projected to reach $5bn by 2022 and will boost profits by 60%. Explaining the power of AI, Goudarzi said that by using machine learning and flight data it is possible you can actually predict where the next epidemic is going to be using be. Little wonder, then, that travel heavyweights like Booking.com are already employing around a hundred people in AI!

Power to the partnership

In the afternoon, there was more tech talk and top tips from brands that included Hyatt International, Costa Cruises, HomeAway and Air France-KLM.

Sanchit Rege, Manager, E-Distribution Europe, Africa, Middle East and South West Asia at Hyatt International, said to survive and thrive in a market dominated by megabrands, you need to tackle the issue “like a zombie apocalypse”. Rege stressed the need to team up and find allies because in this highly competitive market, nobody can do it alone.

Team up and find allies… nobody can do it alone.

Rounding up the day was Iris Taguet, head of Air France-KLM’s (AFKL) blockchain programme, who also stressed the importance of partnerships. With her team of six developers, two infrastructure project managers and an architect from various IT departments, AFKL is looking to become a blockchain champion for the industry. As Taguet pointed out, the very disruptive nature of this distributed ledger technology requires a whole ecosystem partners to work together.

EyeforTravel Amsterdam continues today (November 29) with insights from brands including the TUI Group, IHG, Deutsche Bahn and Amazon Pay. If you missed this event, check out next year’s line up here

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