I reckon its 10 years since I first went to the Travel Technology Europe show. I needed to replace the green-screen inventory and booking system in the tour operator I was working for at the time and thought this was a good place to start. In those days I was quite new to the technology side of travel, having worked in product management and pricing up until then. I don’t remember going to any of the conference sessions back then, but it did start off a process of meeting potential suppliers, which eventually led to a successful implementation of Comtec’s Travelink system.
Nowadays, I don’t attend the show as a potential buyer, or even a seller really. My main reason for attending is to keep up to date with trends, catch up with existing contacts and to find out if virtual reality is still a soluton in search of a problem to solve (2017 update: yes its still pointless).
So here are some of the things I thought were interesting from the 2017 show:
70% of IT projects fail
A depressing statistic, but unfortunately a recognisable one. Andy Boyce and Craig Dunlop, who run the Travology consultancy, led an excellent session on why travel tech projects go wrong. They re-enacted angry conversations between tech supplier and travel company which were painfully familiar. I have come across most of the issues they raised in my work with both tech suppliers and travel companies, but I felt that this session would have been invaluable to anyone who is new to these sorts of projects, as I was the first time I visited TTE all those years ago. You should be just about able to make out their top 10 reasons for failure in my rather shaky image below.
Evolution of Travel Technology
Vijayanta Gupta from Adobe made a great observation about how the focus of travel technology innovation has evolved over recent years. The first wave was focussed on making back office processes more efficient, the second wave was about adding value in the front office, e.g. websites , loyalty schemes etc, but the current wave is all about experience-led innovation.
Importance of Skilled People in Travel Tech
It was mentioned in several sessions how critical it is to get skilled people in to work with travel companies on their technology projects. Carl Morgan from Tiger Bay made the point that it isn’t enough to expect e.g. tour operator staff with a day job in Operations to manage a system implementation. Specialist expertise should be brought in to run these projects. Kosta Kolev from Hack Horizon also mentioned the need for people who really understand what they are doing in order to get value out of travel tech investments. Also in the session on why projects fail it was highlighted that although getting external consultancy resource to help get things right at the beginning of a project can seem expensive, it is far cheaper than dealing with the consequences of not having any specialist expertise.
Speed and UX
Andrea Mestriner of Hotels.com spoke about how strongly page load speed impacts on user experience. He said the brain processes information in the real world in about 0.1 seconds. A delay of 1 second in a page loading is noticeable but acceptable, but a delay of 10 seconds in many cases would lose the user altogether. Andrea’s slide in the image shown gives some examples of how improvements in speed can have a real business impact, e.g. 100ms quicker meant 1% increased revenue for Amazon.