Negotiating the travel tech landscape can be confusing – so many solutions, so many vendors, so many choices.
For those who need help to guide them through the options, the trends and the contexts, a good place to start is the conference program at eTravel World, taking place this March as part of ITB Berlin.
The opening of the eTravel World is quite symbolic: David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin, will discuss the future of travel technology with the social humanoid robot “Pepper” (March 7, 10.30 am, Stage).
This conversation will likely raise many questions, so Dr. Kevin Ashbridge, VP global travel, leisure and hospitality Solutions, SDL, will present “The Rise Of The Robots: Automating The Content Chain For The Connected Traveler” to provide some of the answers ( March 8, 12 noon, Lab).
Digital assistants in the tourism industry are widely seen as part of the future . Alexa and Google Home for example, will be analysed in a dedicated session taking place (March 8, 11 am, Lab), when Florian Bauhuber from Tourismuszukunft will look at the potential consequences of these businesses for tourism stakeholders.
Another buzzword resonating around the industry is Artificial Intelligence (AI), and ITB Berlin 2018 is giving the subject the attention it deserves, with a number of dedicated sessions:
- “AI In Travel And Leisure Marketing” (March 8, 12 noon, Stage),
- “AI In The Hospitality Industry” (March 8, 3 pm, ITB Hospitality Tech Forum),
- Executive Interview: AI In The Travel Industry (March 8, 4pm, Marketing & Distribution Day)
- “AI In Distribution” (March 9, 1.30 pm, Lab) as well as
- “AI In The Tours & Activities Marketplace” (March 9, 3 pm, Lab)
In addition, in various workshops AI will be discussed in a very practical way:
This series will drill down into AI’s impact on these segments and deal with the specific requirements of guests, brand and suppliers in each.
“Curiosity marketing” has not yet become a buzzword. A session “Can Curiosity Beat Robots?” (March 7, 11.30 am, Lab) will introduce this concept to the audience and share best practices, specific to travel. It is hosted by Julia Jung and Stefan Niemeyer from Neusta Etourism have written the first book about curiosity marketing in the industry.
Blockchain is another buzzword which, like AI, has become prevalent and is one of ITB Berlin’s focus topics for 2018. How exactly does blockchain work, and what effects will it have on global travel industry structures? What have tourism industry pioneers and early adopters experienced with blockchain so far, and what steps should companies now take?
Visitors will find out more on March 7, 5 pm, ITB Future Day, where Norm Rose will host “Blockchain: The Next Technology Disruption In The Travel Industry”. Maksim Izmaylov from Winding Tree, Frank Rosenberger fromTUI Group and Decius Valmorbida from the Amadeus IT Group will explain how blockchain exactly works and what effects it could have, while sharing their own learnings so far.
Elsewhere, in “Payments In The Travel Industry – A Blockchain Solution”, TripX-CEO Michael Culhane will inform visitors about smart contracts and their potential to help cost reduction March 7, 3 pm, Lab.
Other sessions covering blockchain include on March 8, 1 pm, Lab, “AI, Blockchain, Platform Economy – Hype Or Hope In Tourism?” by Prof. Dr. Eric Horster from Westküste University of Applied Sciences and “Blockchain: Opportunities Or Challenges For Hospitality?” by Dr. Andriew Lim, Hotelschool The Hague, March 8, 2.30 pm at ITB Hospitality Tech Forum.
Starting with startups
For the first time, ITB Berlin is presenting the eTravel Startup Day, March 9, 10 am to 5 pm, Stage. A wide range of topics is on the agenda, with a strong focus on the opportunities in China, France and Spain. Investors will talk about what does it pay to invest in start-ups already on the first day (March 7, 4pm, etravel Stage.)
Every blue-chip travel firm was a startup once. Expedia Inc’s new CEO, Mark Okerstrom will talk about global expansion, new technologies, competitive challenges and emerging trends (March 8, 2 pm, ITB Marketing & Distribution Day). Alfonso Paredes from Expedia Affiliate Network explains “How Technology Will Put Travel At The Forefront Of The Experience Economy” (March 8, 11.30 am, eTravel Stage).
Many of the sessions across the three days will be reflective, designed to inspire attendees to think differently about familiar constructs. Anne Rösener, German veteran of travel tech, asks “Will Online Companies Soon Turn into Brick-And-Mortar Stores?” (March 7, 2.30 pm, eTravel Lab). Are online companies having a rethink about a physical presence, and if so, what’s making them do it? What does it mean for the existing offline players?
Visitors will learn more about innovations and their potential impact on the travel industry. With its wealth of knowledge about tomorrow’s technology ITB Berlin is the worldwide industry’s cutting edge forum. Admission is free for trade visitors, exhibitors and media representatives.