Anna Aardvark and I spent the day at the Travel Technology Europe show on Tuesday, and it was interesting to hear what people are talking about this year. We attended the following conference sessions, as well as the TTI fringe networking event hosted by TransPerfect.
- Is 2020 the Year for AI in Travel? – Thierry Gnych, IBM
- Leveraging SaaS to Grow Your Offline Business – Janice Sousa, Groupdesk
- Killing Off Legacy Tech the Right Way – Simon Wood, Holiday Extras
The Travel Technology Initiative (TTI) is a group of travel technology companies, of which 2 Aardvarks is a member, focussing on knowledge sharing and networking opportunities through a programme of conferences and events.
Have we moved on from seeing AI and big data usage as ‘creepy’?
It was really interesting hearing about some of the use cases for AI and big data usage beyond sales. And its the first talk I have been to on the subject that didn’t focus in some ways on the ‘creepiness’ factor of using people’s data to highly personalise your offerings. Maybe this represents a maturing of some of the thinking in this area, and an acceptance among consumers? Thierry’s talk had some really interesting examples of how AI was being used to present personalised pricing offers for seats on alternative flights in delay scenarios. Using this technology improved the uptake of these seat offers from 1.9% to 35% and revenue increased around 10 EUR per seat. I am really interested in pricing, and wrote my Tourism Masters dissertation on the subject many moons ago. I am especially interested in the consumer surplus and how we can harness the lost potential revenue in the gap between a price and someone’s willingness to pay.
Don’t automate the thing that makes you special
Janice’s talk covered some things which really should be basics, but a lot of what she said resonated with me because I have seen these mistakes made many times on system procurement and implementation projects. The key points from her slides are below, but essentially the point is to understand your business, understand your goals and requirements, implement a system to address those requirements, then measure whether that has been successful.
- Audit your business
- Implement intentionally
- Get feedback
- Measure ROI
- Go deep with software
As a business analyst, these things are really my bread and butter, and 2 Aardvarks can help you frame and structure your project so you are focussed on delivering towards measurable objectives.
A really interesting part of the talk was the point that when trying to automate parts of your business or bring them online, its really important to preserve the key parts where you are adding value offline. For example, if you are calling customers 7 days before departure to brief them on a tour, and that is something that customers like and sets you apart from your competitors, don’t automate that with an email.
Use micro-services to make solutions scalable and maintainable
In a slightly more development-focussed talk, Simon explained some of the ways that Holiday Extras make their code scalable and maintainable. This went a step further than just agile working, to a sort of agnostic network of microservices to build up an application. By wrapping each function in an API, it means that the whole solution doesn’t need to be on the same platform or language, and it opens up the possibility of swapping out the front end or back end of specific parts of a solution without having to do a lot of engineering to the whole. Simon also explained how he was able to run a legacy element and a new element alongside each other, using the legacy one to deliver to the user, but logging the responses from both the old and new. By comparing these en masse, it’s possible to iterate very quickly through a series of improvements.
As usual, the show was a great opportunity to catch up with familiar faces and meet many new ones. What were your show highlights?