This week saw the annual Travel Technology Europe show at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre. As well as being a great chance to catch up with clients, suppliers and other familiar faces from the travel industry, there is a multi-stream conference programme offering presentations, demos and panel discussions on various travel technology and digital marketing topics.
I noted down a few interesting things I heard in the sessions that I attended…
On travel technology trends:
Spending over the last few years has been on back office automation and efficiency. Now we are seeing a switch to investment in mobile, differentiation and bespoke solutions on the client facing side (Paul Broughton, Travelport)
Two thirds of consumer spend is in resort whilst on holiday. There is a move towards trying to capture some of this spend using mobile devices (Ian Richardon, ICE ICT)
There is tendency for the travel industry to indulge in a lot of “self bashing” over the slow uptake on new technologies, but actually there is quite a lot of early adoption by some travel companies (Daniele Beccari, Criteo)
On Agile development:
Skyscanner encourage an experimentation mindset, allowing developers to push concepts into production and test in the live environment. By making the culture accepting of mistakes, and easy and painless to own up, they move forward at a quicker and more creative pace (Greg Urquhart, Skyscanner)
Open Destinations work in an Agile way internally, but a waterfall way with clients. So scope and pricing are set with clients, but the dev team can work and deliver in a more flexible way (Brian Mebourne, Open Destinations)
Cloud computing allows teams to spin up servers at low cost for trying things out – in the old days you would have to buy physical hardware etc (Simon Wood, Holiday Extras)
On choosing the right technology partner:
The personal relationship with the supplier is one of the most important things. You will write down the cost of the system in around 5 years, but the lifespan is likely to be more like 8 to 12 years. Really important you can work together with the supplier (Paul Richer, Genesys).
When choosing a supplier, use an external consultant to help. It seems like an additional expense, but their knowledge of systems and industry pricing can save a lot of money (Maria Whiteman, Amadeus)
Ask to see the supplier’s product road map – what new functionality have they developed in the last 12 months, and what is coming in the next 12 months? This helps you gauge how adaptive they will be to changes in your business (Phil Napleton, Open Destinations).
Over promising on the part of the supplier, and lack of a suitably competent person on the client side who is devoted specifically to the project are common reasons for relationship breakdown (Paul Richer, Genesys)
Go out and get references and visit multiple clients from your shortlisted supplier. Don’t just look at the client list itself and think ‘they must be good if they are working with these big names’ (Maria Whiteman, Amadeus).
On online innovation:
Expedia are applying what they have learned on the client side to the supplier side, with things like gameification, mobile first, real-time reviews and cohesive cross-device experience (Julie Cheneau, Expedia).
Open Destinations are helping their clients enhance their in-resort experience in an increasing ‘always online’ culture. However, apps can be useful for providing both staff and clients with information whilst on holiday when they don’t have live internet connection (Adam Buckmaster, Open Destinations)
And a few myths busted about your new technology:
The new system will give us all the functionality of our existing system PLUS more
- It will only affect the Sales Team – it won’t affect me
- The new system will be flexible our processes won’t have to change
- Its an IT project so all the work will be done by those IT people
- All projects take longer and cost more than originally thought
- These projects are only implemented to reduce staff costs
(Mark Thompson, TUI Specialist)