Cyber security and artificial intelligence were the hot topics at the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Question Time, with four industry leaders invited to discuss trends affecting travel technology.
The speakers at last week’s Travel Technology Europe show (of which TTG Media was media partner) comprised Andrew Metcalfe, Guestline; Rajat Dhawan, Contiki; Andrew Jordan, Carlson Wagonlit Travel; and Jonathan Midgley, Trainline.
Moderating the discussion was Charlotte Lamp Davies, vice-president of travel and hospitality Europe, DataArt, who kicked off proceedings by honing in on artificial intelligence (AI). “It has a confused definition in the travel industry,” warned Jordan, adding: “AI is about giving people a great seamless customer experience”.
"We have been ready for GDPR for two years now. I’m surprised that organisations are worried about it."
He explained that hotels should look to self-service check-in kiosks in airports and chatbots as an example. Cyber security and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) – which start from May 25 this year – were also covered.
Metcalfe said travel companies should be aware of the danger of GDPR hindering marketing opportunities, while Dhawan explained that customer collaboration was key when moving forward with data retention. Midgley added that companies should view GDPR as a positive. He said: “We have been ready for GDPR for two years now. I’m surprised that organisations are worried about it. At Trainline we treat our customers’ data with the respect it deserves.”
The consensus regarding digital transformation was that company culture must change to embrace technology. Dhawan said: “It’s important staff understand the ends to the means. They must take the wider view on the journey – what will the business get out of this journey?”
Practical steps shared by the panel to aid digital transformation included office location and the importance of high speed Wi-Fi. Midgley said: “Great people want to live in great cities. I travelled across the UK to live in London. At a business’s heart are great people. If you want to foster a progressive culture you have to work with people that you can get on with.”