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
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
Bas Lemmens, chief executive, meetings.com and president, Hotelplanner
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
Andy Owen-Jones, co-founder and chief executive, bd4travel
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
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 UKAndy Washington, general manager, Trip.com
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 technology 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.
14:30 Build From The Tech Op: A blueprint for embedding digital at the heart of travel
Trsitan 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 office, 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 booking.com, 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
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
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, Amaze
Simon Erdem, head of product, Holiday Pirates
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 Taking Flight: Trip.com Group's vision for a new approach in the OTA sector
Yudong Tan, chief executive flight, Trip.com 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 trip.com 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.
17:05 A view from the top: President of Expedia for Business on the travel recovery
Ariane Gorin, president, Expedia Business Services
Now in the newly created position of president Expedia for Business, Ariane Gorin sits on the global travel giant's board and has risen to become one of the most influential female executive in the sector.
In this session, Ariane will speak about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and how Expedia is positioning itself within the global travel sector to drive recovery through partnership, innovation and delivering improved experiences for consumers.
17:15 Closing remarks
Lee Hayhurst, Editor, Travolution