Worldwide Business Research decided to bring its Digital Travel Summit event, which is well established in the US, over to the UK in 2015 to launch a new European series.
It focuses on digital and e-commerce best practice and since its launch has attracted Europe’s leading hotels, airlines, agencies, cruise lines, car rentals and intermediaries. Below, conference director Susie Benaim shares the latest news on the event.
The Digital Travel Summit is now in its third year – has the format changed since it began in 2015?
The first two events focused on traditional marketing and optimisation, but now we’re looking at a more macro level, including a focus on the disruptors in travel. The year will also be more interactive, from an engagement perspective, and we will run more closed-door sessions; delegates find huge value in the peer-to-peer environment.
And what about the speakers this year?
We have some great speakers. Looking at the feedback from last year, delegates said they wanted to hear from the likes of British Airways, Hilton and Eurostar. We’re also happy to announce David Beebe, vice-president, global creative and content marketing, Marriott International, who will be speaking, as well as Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman, Ogilvy & Mather Group UK who will talk about the science behind storytelling.
Which themes are dominating in 2017?
In digital travel, there’s a rise in the need for smarter and more effective data analysis, and personalisation is growing. We’ll also look at the new online travel agencies and metasearch companies coming into the market – who’s best in class when it comes to customer experience? And then from an IT infrastructure perspective, we will examine how to scale your business – that’s the biggest question. There are also so many disruptors coming into the space, so artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robotics are all tools that can enhance the online space.
What influence does the Digital Travel Summit have on the wider market?
I’d look at this the other way round: this is the only event that focuses on e-commerce in travel. The sector needs an annual meeting place to drive inspiration and provide a platform for the market to discuss their practical challenges. This is the meeting place for anyone who is driving digital transformation. Also, initially we thought hotels and airlines were the most digitally mature, but now we’re seeing major developments across the board, including train companies, rail and cruise lines.
How European is your event, and will you keep it in the UK in 2018?
Our first year saw 20% of attendees come from the UK, and the second 40%. This will likely drop this year, but only because we are progressively becoming more pan-European and our representation of Europe is broadening. We want to make sure delegates are evenly split [from across Europe]. One thing that will be a factor in the potential location of our event in the future is the development of European digital hubs, such as Dublin, or Paris. You will have to wait and see for 2018!
The Digital Travel Summit takes place June 27-28, 2017 at The Tower Hotel, London. TTG readers receive a 15% discount off the ticket price when quoting code “TTG15”. TTG Media is strategic partner for the summit.