As the travel industry looks to rebuild following the devastation of Covid-19, there has never been a more important year for the Travolution European Summit.

Following last year's Reset, Reboot, Restart virtual event this year will be dominated by discussion about how technology will underpin the sector's efforts to Build Back Better.

Confirmed as part of Travolution parent Jacobs Media Group's Exciting new Global Travel Week initiative, Thursday September 30 will be Travolution's day to turn the focus on technology.

Our programme will feature senior speakers from leading brands within the sector, as well as experts from outside travel to inspire our audience's innovative passion.

Travel is powered by ideas and imagination, and ideas and imagination happen among likeminded individuals bound by their shared vision for an exciting future for the sector.

We look forward to welcoming 400 of senior travel sector delegates to our 2021 summit, one of the few opportunities this year for in-person networking, learning and inspiration.

Confirmed senior executives include Thomas Cook chief executive Alan French and newly appointed chief operating officer of Holiday Extras, Elizabeth Hogg.


Our speakers are experts drawn from leading travel and disruptive digital brands

Andrea Bertoli
Deputy CEO group
Sam Bruce
Co-Founder and Director
Much Better Adventures
John Crosby
Chief Operating Officer
Alan French
Chief Executive
Thomas Cook
Elizabeth Hogg
Chief Operating Officer
Holiday Extras
Nick Hynes
Co-founder and Chief Executive
Somo Global
Alexa-Maria Rathbone Barker
Co-Founder and Chief Executive
Andy Washington
C-Suite Executive Leader


Thursday, September 30

09:00 Welcome

Lee Hayhurst, Editor, Travolution

09.05 Travolution Innovation Report Launch

Lee Hayhurst, executive editor, Travolution

In this opening session, we will present the latest exclusive analysis of technology spend in the UK travel sector. This annual deep dive into tech spend trends will this year expose the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector's investment in technology following over a decade of increasing investment which has been tracked by Travolution. The Innovation Report will look at who's spending how much money and on what in the Travel Agent, Tour Operator, Hotel, Aviation and Cruise and Ferry sectors.

09.35 Executive Interview

Elizabeth Hogg, chief operating officer,  Holiday Extras

In this session, Elizabeth will set out her vision for a technology-driven approach to ‘remaking holiday making’ in the light of the pandemic. Holiday Extras has announced a £1 million tech talent recruitment drive to emerge from the crisis with a ‘clear vision and renewed drive’ to put the customer first. Hogg’s background in finance and technology means she is well-placed to offer an assessment of what the travel sector need to do as it strives to build back better. 

09.55 Here Come The Bots: The role of automation will play underpinning the recovery

Andrea Bertoli, chief executive, Lastminute Group

Antonio Felino, managing director, Travel Republic

Business critical travel industry processes and workflows can often be dominated by low-skilled manual tasks that divert high-cost human resources away from more valuable and revenue generating consumer facing functions.

As the sector battles to recover from COVID-19, operating more efficiently and effectively has become an imperative. Is the sector ready to deploy more automation? What will increased use of bots mean for roles in travel? And in what areas should firms be looking to ease the burden on their people by employing tech but retaining a customer-centric ethos? Our expert panel will provide answers to these questions and more in this panel session. 

10.30 Morning Coffee Break

10.45  Progress in the Pandemic: Laying the foundations for the future

Sam Bruce, co-founder and director, Much Better Adventures

Alexa Barker, co-founder and chief executive, tripAbrood

Elnur Seyidli, chief executive,

Our panel of speakers in the session represent travel firms that have all made significant progress despite the impact of the COVID pandemic on the sector either by bringing on new investment or developing their business ready for the travel rebound. We’ll be asking three winners of Travolution Awards in 2020 what their key challenges were, what was the key to their ability to not just survive but lay the foundations for the future but to construct a thriving business for the post-pandemic era?

11.25  Executive Interview

Alan French, chief executive,  Thomas Cook

Formerly the old Thomas Cook’s chief strategy and technology director, Alan now heads up the UK’s newest OTA having revived the legendary legacy UK travel brand under new ownership. He will talk about his current role and the challenges of establishing a new business during the pandemic and his hopes and aspirations for Thomas Cook. Alan will also provide a perspective from outside travel from his time as chief technology officer of high street household names Marks & Spencer and Boots. 

11.55 Executive Interview

Nick Hynes, co-founder and chief executive,  Somo Global

Pioneering tech entrepreneur Nick Hynes is the former chief executive and founder of Overture Europe and Searchworks, which he sold to Yahoo! and TradeDoubler respectively. Before that he made his name with BA where he turned around its loss making Airmiles loyalty scheme business.

Now he runs his own digital experience agency Somo Global, which he co-founded in 2010. So, he knows a thing or two about travel, digital and consumer loyalty. Nick will explain how the reconstruction of the travel industry will need to be based on a completely new blueprint reflecting how the pandemic has changed the rules of the game. 

12.20  Lunch

13.20 Keynote session will be announced on June 15

13.50 Executive Interview

Donat Retif, chief executive,  Love Holidays

Donat was installed as Love Holidays chief executive in December 2019 before the emergence of a new coronavirus in China that would go on to become a devastating global pandemic. He brings international experience in digital and enterprise software transformation to the UK’s fifth largest travel company licences to carry over one million passengers a year.

In this session Donat will talk about his introduction to the world of travel during the biggest crisis the sector has ever faced. He says in business his primary focus is to make things happen and keep it simple and that he has the courage and resilience to make difficult decisions and building great teams. 

14.20 Leave It To Data: Why analytics will be the cornerstone of the COVID recovery

The travel industry faces an uncertain future in which the value of the historic data it has collected on clients over many years has been undermined by events. The sector also faces ever-stricter rules on privacy due both to regulatory pressures and moves by the global gatekeepers of the internet, Google and Apple.

As firms face the challenge of operating in a world of hyper-personal expectations, how does it make use of data and analytics to target customer life-time value without falling foul of new rules and customer concerns about privacy? Does Artificial Intelligence provide the answer and how to firms exploit the promise of AI? Our expert panel will provide answers to these questions and more in this panel session. 

14.55 Afternoon Coffee Break / Networking

15.10  Tech-Know: Will COVID-19 be a boon for contractors and the death knell for big in-house tech projects?

John Bauer, chief technology officer, Travel Counsellors

John Crosby, chief operating officer, Amaze

Largescale technology projects are often fraught with issues and travel has certainly had its fair share of expensive failures. Has COVID-19 finally seen the end of firms embarking on large, potentially risky in-house technology projects?

Is the future of technology procurement more about shopping in the marketplace for the best-in-class product and systems and adapting it to your needs than building it yourself? And what should travel firms look for in trusted partners to create and maintain an agile and future-proofed tech stack? Our expert panel will provide answers to these questions and more in this panel session.

15.50 Executive Interview will be announced on June 15

16.30 Keynote session will be announced on Jun 15

17.15 Closing remarks

Lee Hayhurst, Editor, Travolution


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