29 Aug 2019

Phocuswright 2019 Conference: Are we there yet?

Are we there yet? Yes and no, depending on who you ask in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.

The promise of a digital-led business, first put forward by a disparate range of entrepreneurs with big ideas and a handful of forward-thinkers in the 1990s, is here. In reality, it’s been here for some time.

But as we near the end of the decade, we can legitimately ask ourselves if the journey is now complete.

From the dawn of the jet age to the birth of the first scrappy online travel agencies, the pace of travel innovation may not have been consistent, but its forward motion has been constant.

While these technologies and concepts have indeed fueled startups, pivots and strategic shifts, none have upended travel as we know it, or delivered on their most optimistic promises. Yet.

This year at The Phocuswright Conference, we once again bring together travel's brightest leaders to take stock of our industry's past and plot its future.

And, we will ask them if the milestones that were expected have been reached?

Here’s what to expect (and why it matters):

  • EXECUTIVE INTERVIEWS: The giants of the online travel industry are enjoying their lofty positions, making (and spending) billions in revenue and setting the standard for others to follow. But if the likes of Glenn Fogel of Booking Holdings, Mark Okerstrom of Expedia Group or Steve Hafner of KAYAK think they’ve reached their destination, then there is hope for everyone else.
  • INVESTORS: These are the people that back new ideas, cutting-edge technology (such as blockchain, voice and AI) and new ways of thinking. They certainly do not want the industry to rest on its laurels, even if they are perhaps more discerning with their cash than the care-free days of old.
  • THRIVING SECTORS: Tours and activities rightly remains the self-proclaimed sector of the moment, yet the aforementioned giants elsewhere in the industry are muscling in with big ambitions and goals to connect the still fairly unconnected operator base. Should the heavily funded specialists (GetYourGuide and Klook, both of which are participating) should beware?
  • AVIATION: This is not hyperbole - airlines, agency intermediaries (on- and offline) and technology companies are preparing for a revolution. Behind the NDC-led debates of the last few years, a more fundamental change is coming, encompassing the potential for new business models and processes such as ONE Order.
  • WHAT ELSE? Sessions with leading executives representing the ever-growing alternative accommodations segment ... Spotlight on revolutionized transportation and how travelers interact with the cities they live in and visit ... Personalization of privacy … and more.

But don’t take the industry’s word for it. There are other, equally influential and knowledgeable figures in the digital world that should and will be heard.

Kara Swisher was once described as Silicon Valley's "most-feared and well-liked journalist" in a profile piece for New York Magazine.

She has a contact book to die for and is hugely respected for her knowledge of both the startup and tech worlds.

Now, the editor at large for tech media site Recode and host of the Recode Decode podcast is one of a number of high-profile names to also lend their brains and experience of the tech world and digital travel economy at The Phocuswright Conference 2019.

View the growing list of 2019 speakers here.

Check: Other highlights and more on the “Are We There Yet?” theme.

Friday deadline: Save $500 on Phocuswright Conference tickets until August 30 – register now.