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

Jon Bauer
Chief Technology Officer
Travel Counsellors
Alex Black
Lead Product Owner
easyJet holidays
Sam Bruce
Co-Founder and Director
Much Better Adventures
Carlos Cenra
Sales and Marketing Director
James Clarke
General Manager
John Crosby
Chief Operating Officer
Lucy England
Fox Williams
Antonion Fellino
Managing Director
Travel Republic
Alan French
Chief Executive
Thomas Cook
Tristan Gadsby
Chief Executive and Founder
Nishank Gopalkrishnan
Chief Business Officer
Tui Musement
Ariane Gorin
President, Expedia Business Services
Expedia Group
Elizabeth Hogg
Chief Operating Officer
Holiday Extras
Nick Hynes
Co-founder and Chief Executive
Somo Global
Hugh King
Director of Business Development
Bas Lemmens
Chief Executive and President and Hotelplanner
Ian MacArthur
Chief Executive Officer
Simon Matthews
Chief Product and Technology Officer
Andy Owen-Jones
Co-Founder and Chief Executive
Marc Padrosa
Global Industry Director
Richard Piper
Business Development Director
Will Plummer
CEO & Co-Founder
Trust My Travel
Alexa-Maria Rathbone Barker
CEO & Founder
Elnur Seyidli
Chief Executive
Nick Shay
Head of Travel & Hospitality, Europe
Publicis Sapient
Darren Sweetland
Chief Executive
Mollie’s Motel and Diner
Yudong Tan
Chief Executive Flight Group
Andy Washington
General Manager


Thursday, September 30

08:30  Networking Breakfast

09:00   Welcome from Travolution

Lee Hayhurst, editor, Travolution

09:05  Travolution Innovation Report 2021: Latest trends in tech investment in UK travel

Lee Hayhurst, executive editor, Travolution

Marc Padrosa, global industry director,  Kantox

Nick Shay, head of travel & hospitality, europe,  Publicis Sapient

Clare de Bono, head of retail customer and traveller solutions,  Amadeus

Carlos Cendra, sales and marketing director,  Mabrian

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.

09:45 The reinvention of a legend

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. 

10:15 Digital Masters Presentation: Better for Customers

Andy Owen-Jones, co-founder and chief executive,  bd4travel

Alex Black, lead product owner,  easyJet holidays

How to effectively be customer-centric in a data-driven environment 

easyJet holidays relaunched its digital sales channel in November 2019 and has since been focussing on built-in intelligence as a key feature to automate personalisation at scale. Together with bd4travel, they pushed their customer-centric approach to the next level by predicting customer needs in real-time and providing the most relevant offering to every user. This profitable partnership was delivered under tight deadlines but ultimately with a clear vision. Alex Black (Lead Product Owner at easyJet holidays) and Andy Owen Jones (CEO at bd4travel) share valuable lessons from their cooperation - as well as their vision on how to be “Better for Customers”

10:35 Digital Dynamics: How traditional business models are being challenged

Lucy England, partner,  Fox Williams

Steve Domin, co-founder and chief executive,  Duffel

Simon Matthews, chief product and technology officer,  Hotelbeds

Richard Piper, business development director,  Webloyalty

The COVID-19 pandemic is said to have seen up to a decade’s worth of shift to digital take place as consumers and travel businesses had no choice but to embrace online channels. It remains to be seen whether this shift is permanent, but there’s no doubt firms are having to adapt to change that was coming anyway, much more quickly.

For travel agents and tour operators, this more technological environment is seeing business models change and a greater range of channels, suppliers and customers become available to them. But what does this mean for business models, commercial arrangements and the legal regimes associated with them? 

In this session, leading travel law firm Fox Williams will be joined by travel brands grappling with this new reality as they ensure they are ready for the legal and regulatory landscape that digitalisation is bringing. 

11:15  Morning Coffee Break

11:35  The Customer X-Factor: How expectations of travel brands are changing

James Clarke, general manager, Travelzoo UK

Andy Washington, general manager,

Hugh King, director of business development, Battleface

Will Plummer, ceo and co-founder, Trust My Travel

This session will kick off with a presentation of exclusive research conducted with Travelzoo among consumers shedding light on how the Covid pandemic has impacted on the way they want to engage with travel companies.

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 and emerging forms of communication 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.

12:15 Putting extras centre stage

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 COVID 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. 

12:40 Digital Masters Presentation

Ian MacArthur, chief executive officer,  Sagittarius

Ian explores what digital experience should be in 2022. Sharing recent client case studies from sectors such as manufacturing, construction and financial services, where investment was strong during the pandemic, he will show how this thinking is transferring over to travel brands as they build back better. 

13:00 Building back trust post pandemic

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. 

13:30 Lunch

14:30 Build From The Tech Op: A blueprint for embedding digital at the heart of travel

Tristan Gadsby, chief executive and founder,  Alliants

Darren Sweetland, chief executive,  Mollies's Motel and Diner

Digital advances in travel often involve retrofitting technology onto legacy platforms and infrastructure. But when you’ve got the freedom to sit down with a blank sheet and create a new concept, the sort of digital experiences modern technology allows can be the starting point. 

In this session we will hear from partners who worked on the launch of a new hospitality brand that has set out to transform the hospitality sector and by having the technology experience very much at its core. 

Originally the brainchild of Nick Jones MBE (Founder & CEO of Soho House), Mollie’s is led by Darren Sweetland, former EMEA Finance Director of Soho House and Commercial Finance at Tesco PLC. Sweetland’s vision is to forge a new type of travel, from roadside to city-centre, redefining the concept of stylish travel so that it is available for everyone. With an exciting raft of openings planned across the country, Mollie’s marks a new era of positivity for the UK hospitality sector, bringing employment, growth and energy to the market. Darren Sweetland, will talk about his work in developing and establishing the new brand alongside technology partner Alliants. 

15:00  Engineering the experiential in travel

Nishank Gopalkrishnan, chief business officer,  Tui Musement

Nishank leads the strategic distribution partnerships at Tui Musement, the tours and activities division of Europe’s largest travel firm. It works some of the world’s leading consumer-facing travel brands including, Trivago and C-trip, having developed technologies to distribute attraction tickets in over 140 countries. 

In this session Nishank, who sits on the Tui Musement Executive Committee, will talk about how he is defining the future strategy for the business through digital transformation. He will also explain why the tour and activities sector is set to become one of the key drivers of post-pandemic recovery for travel firms in a sector that’s meeting the more experiential demands of its customers. 

15:25 Progress in the Pandemic: How firms are laying foundations for the future

Edgar Weggelaar, vice president,  Tourism Innovation Summit Congress

Elnur Seyidli, chief executive, HalalBooking

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

Alexa-Maria Rathbone Barker, ceo and founder,  TripAbrood

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?

16:00 Afternoon Coffee Break / Networking

16:15  Tech-Know: Will COVID-19 be the death knell for big in-house tech projects?

John Bauer, chief technology officer, Travel Counsellors

John Crosby, chief operating officer, Awaze

Bas Lemmens, chief executive, and president,  Hotelplanner

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.

16:45 A Connected World in a Post-Pandemic Era

Ariane Gorin, president,  Expedia for Business, Expedia Group

Covid-19 has decimated travel and impacted the pace and direction of change as we begin to recover. The industry faces more new and unique challenges now than before the pandemic, and traveller behaviours are changing. What are the megatrends affecting the travel industry and what does the future hold? What can we do to meet the fresh challenges facing our industry?

17:05 Taking Flight: Group's vision for a new approach in the OTA sector

Yudong Tan, chief executive flight, Group

Large global OTAs have emerged to become giants of the travel sector during the internet revolution and despite the huge challenges of the Covid pandemic their position at the top of the travel food chain looks unassailable. In this session we hear from a challenger OTA which aims to join other household names bringing an approach honed in the APAC region with a particular focus on customer service.

Yudong Tan is a technology specialist with a background in both hardware and software engineering and deployment. He joined leading Chinese OTA in 2014 from Microsoft, ending a period working in California also with Yelp and NVIDIA, initially a director of R&D before joining the flights division of the business.

17:15 Closing remarks

Lee Hayhurst, Editor, Travolution


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