Programme - Travel Forward


  • Unlocking a New Era of Technology Powered Travel

    The travel and hospitality industry is coming of age, as digital technologies and cloud-based platforms open the door to whole new ways of deepening and broadening customer engagements, delivering unprecedented experiences and driving business and operational efficiency.

    The Travel Forward Conference Programme unlocks the door to new opportunities in the face of increasing competition. It covers technology-driven business strategy based on the latest trends from big data to blockchain, augmented reality to AI, together with practical case studies and deep-dive sessions so you can learn how to deliver the next generation of experiences, grow loyalty and gain new insights into your customers.

    The programme features opening keynote presentations in the morning and then splits into two tracks: 1. Customer Experience & Personalisation 2. Technology

    You can register your place here - limited early bird tickets left

  • 08:45 - 09:00

    Registration and refreshments

    09:00 - 09:05

    Welcome - Jon Collins, Programme and Content Director, Travel Forward

    09:05 - 09:45

    Keynote opening address

    Travel Forward: Digitally reimagining travel

    Across industries, digital transformation is recognised as about putting the customer first and travel is no exception. The industry has seen huge change at rapid pace, while today’s traveller has more information at their fingertips and more choice than ever before. We kick off this event by looking at how travel providers of all shapes and sizes can embrace digital technologies to engage with travellers and deliver on the needs and expectations of today. Our opening address focuses on how travel is being impacted and how you can ensure you win in this new world by enabling a new travel paradigm, founded on creating a customer-centric experience.

    Mike Croucher, Head of Technical Strategy, Chief Architect, Travelport
    09:45 - 10:20

    Panel discussion: Meeting the demands and expectations of tomorrow’s traveller

    With demands increasing and technology only partly addressing consumer behaviour, this session explores the expectations of tomorrow’s travellers, and the opportunities these present across the travel ecosystem. We bring together representatives from the industry, leading-edge experts and representatives of that all-important group – the travelling customer.

    Hari Nair, Global Senior Vice President, Expedia Group Media Solutions
    Utpal Kaul, Head of New Product Incubation, Carlson Wagonlit Travel

    Simon Powell, CEO & Founder,

    10:20 - 10:55

    Panel discussion: The road to be travelled – how technology is reinventing the travel experience

    While a wealth of new technologies might be revolutionising the industry, less clear is where to place your bets, and indeed, money. On this panel, we bring together a number of success stories who show how they started out, where the benefits were felt and what they learned along the way.

    Didier Pinson, CIO/ COO, Rail Europe
    Mariano Albera, CTO, Expedia Partner Solutions
    Gunjan Verma, CTO, The Travel Corporation
    Tom Valentine, Co-Founder & COO, Secret Escapes

    Moderator: Paul Richer, Senior Partner, Genesys

    10:55 - 11:05

    Straw Poll: What's keeping the audience awake at night?

    To round off the opening plenary, we conduct some audience polls, which we will report at the end of the event.

    11:05 - 11:20


    Stream One: Customer Experience & Personalisation
    11:20 - 11:50

    Strategy: Do you know who I am? Strategies to understand and connect with your customer

    Today’s travellers expect a seamless and truly omnichannel customer journey. Putting travellers at the heart of both process and decision-making is essential to provide an unrivalled experience, but what does this mean in practice? Speaking to industry experts and travellers, this session explores the most innovative, game-changing customer centric strategies, and how to make them real.

    Francois Mare, VP e-Commerce Luxury, Accor
    Andy Owen-Jones, CEO & Co-Founder, bd4travel

    Moderator: Kevin May, Editor in Chief, Phocuswright

    11:55 - 12:25

    Tech Trend: Augmenting the resort experience: How AR and VR extend physical across digital and back

    Augmented and virtual reality hold a great deal of potential both to help people “prepare before they are there,” and bring experiences to life. In this session we look at the role of experiential technologies in resorts, enabling faster on-boarding and immersive experiences

    Speaker: Industry expert, AR/VR and new experience design TBC
    12:30 - 13:00

    Case Study: Data-driven strategies to win loyalty and enhance offerings

    With customer acquisition cost far greater than customer retention, driving loyalty is the most effective way to generate profit. This session explores digital and tech strategies that can help you enhance the customer journey and build on customer engagement. Using AI, data analytics, chatbots, we hear from Club Med on how they have delivered unparalleled loyalty experience.

    Estelle Giraudeau, Managing Director UK & Northern Europe, Club Med

    13:00 - 14:00

    Lunch and networking

    14:00 - 14:30

    Streamlining the customer journey through a more personalised service

    Two kinds of customer journey exist, both the end-to-end from idea to decision and sale, and the there-and-back-again of the travel experience. In this session, we consider the key facets of the customer journey, and consider what this means to travel providers looking to grow loyalty and maximise business value.

    Damian Rees, Founder/Director, Experience UX

    14:35 - 15:05

    Tech trend: Experiential threats and opportunities from the sharing economy

    In this session we look at how the sharing economy is moving outside straightforward resources, and into delivering experiences – this requires providers to step up a level in terms of aggregation, before the new breed of online agents steal a march on providers. Where are the low hanging fruit, and how to deliver on the opportunity?

    Speaker: Industry expert TBC
    15:05 - 15:30


    Stream Two: Enabling Technology and Platforms
    11:20 - 11:50

    Strategy: Standing on the shoulders of giants: how the platform economy is changing the face of travel

    In this session we go under the bonnet of platform architectures, and explore how forward-thinking operators are building upon platforms, or indeed building their own, as a foundation for data aggregation and seamless customer experiences.

    Speaker: Industry expert on the platform economy TBC

    11:55 - 12:25

    Tech Trend: Will Blockchain save your travel company?

    Travel organisations are expressing a great deal of interest in Blockchain as a truly disruptive technology across bookings, fraud management and even luggage handling. In this session we explore the potential of blockchain, then hear about experiences to date.

    Speaker: TBC
    12:30 - 13:00

    Case Study: GDPR as an opportunity

    Now GDPR has started to bed in, we talk to organisations who have managed to derive business benefit from their data strategies and policies. What are the opportunities and constraints GDPR presents and how has this affected how data can be used going forward? This session will be held as a panel.

    Moderator and panellists: TBC

    13:00 - 14:00

    Lunch and networking

    14:00 - 14:30

    Strategy: Frictionless interactions, payment and retention strategies

    In this session we explore the kinds of infrastructure that need to be in place to remove technology friction from customer interactions, considering new payment and customer care models, automated reservation guarantees and what they mean for retention. And what of crypto currencies – will they have an impact?

    Speaker: Payments and reservation architecture strategist
    14:35 - 15:05

    Tech Trend: Practical vs magic? The vision and reality of Artificial Intelligence

    AI and machine learning are presented like they solve all travel industry ills, but in reality they offer specific responses to genuine issues such as responsive interfaces, traveller recommendations, chat bots and yield strategy. This session separates myth from reality and explores how to start the AI journey.

    Speaker: Hands-on expert delivering on AI TBC
    15:30 - 16:00

    Keynote interview: Taking bookings beyond the transaction

    In this plenary session, we look at how online travel agents are moving beyond individual bookings, towards more value-added services and experiences.

    Tim Hentschel, CEO, Hotelplanner
    16:05 - 16:45

    Unconference panel: Thinking outside the box

    In this quick-fire panel, we speak to travel startups about how they arrived at, then learned to pitch their ideas, giving an insight into the behind-the scenes world of the startup.

    16:45 - 17:15

    Fireside chat: The longest journey

    In this brave new world of digitally infused experiences, we find out what is important for the seasoned traveller.

    Dr. Kris Naudts, Founder & CEO, Culture Trip

    Interviewer: Lee Hayhurst, Editor, Travolution


    Close of day one - networking

    08:45 - 09:00

    Registration and refreshments

    09:00 - 09:05


    09:05 - 09:45

    Keynote talk, followed by Q&A: The everything, everywhere machine

    In this keynote, a travel expert talks about the future ways in which unfettered access to seamless travel experiences could truly change the world, and what this means to existing and future brands.

    Speaker: TBC

    09:45 - 10:20

    Panel – The future of distribution - are we seeing the death of the brand?

    Distribution channels offer a dichotomy, between offering the opportunity from brand to reach millions and disabling a brand’s ability to connect with the customer. How can brands work successfully with distribution partners whilst maintaining ownership of the relationship with the customers? In this session we hear from brands fighting back against the monopoly, working better with partners or going it alone to generate additional revenue.

    Nayan Peshkar, SVP Digital, Distribution & Revenue Strategy, Millennium Hotels & Resorts
    Nils Korsvoll, Vice President Distribution, eBerry by Nordic Choice Hospitality Group
    Francesca Benati, VP Online Western Europe, Middle East & Africa & Managing Director Italy Amadeus
    10:20 - 11:00

    Keynote: The informed traveller

    Dr Sue Black OBE, Technology Evangelist, UK Government Strategic Advisor, Professional Speaker, Author

    11:00 - 11:15


    Stream One: Customer Experience and Personalisation
    11:15 - 11:45

    Strategy: Talking specifics – using digital to improve traveller experiences

    Sophisticated technology is changing the in-resort experiences, bringing a truly personalised approach to your customer. But how to decide what technology to use for what? This session looks at how to set strategy around digital technologies, to ensure the individual needs of the traveller can be met in an entirely personalised experience whilst still driving revenue and growth.

    Speaker TBC:

    11:50 - 12:20

    Tech trends: Data analytics driving engagement and experience

    Harnessing the potential of data delivering insights and experiences to travellers, increasing business value. This session explores how to make the most out of your data, both within your CRM and externally, drive personalisation and grow sales by integrating data sources, driving analytics/ segmentation and delivering insights. What is currently possible, and where is analytics going next?

    Speaker: Industry expert, analytics and travel TBC
    12:25 - 12:55

    Case Study: Heightening customer experiences through dynamic ancillary packaging

    Customers are putting experience ahead of destination when booking travel. In response, companies can deepen experiences through effective use of data and technology. This case study explores the use of IoT, geo-marking and data to drive dynamic ancillary packaging, increasing revenue as well as delighting the customer.

    Roberto Abbondio, Managing Director, New Digital Business, Eurostar International
    12:15 - 14:00

    Lunch and networking

    14:00 - 14:30

    Deep Dive: Maintaining your brand position with search and social reviews

    Today’s customer holds more power than ever before and user-generated content plays a pivotal role in customer decision-making. Keeping a pace of search and reviews is vital to both brand reputation and customer engagement. This session explores tools and techniques that will enable you to maximise your meta search and user generated content.

    Speaker: Technology expert TBC
    14:35 - 15:05

    Case Study: Managing content for business success

    Travel providers are now having to deal with large volumes of images, text, video, created in-house or externally. In a content-centric world, managing this information is crucial to enhancing the customer experience and demonstrating the value of the provider. In this session we speak to a provider about lessons learned when implementing a content strategy that delivered true business value.

    Speaker: Travel provider, Head of Content TBC
    Stream Two: Enabling Technology and Platforms
    11:15 - 11:45

    Strategy: A mobile strategy fit for the mobile consumer

    Last year mobile accounted for 40% of US travel sales with the expectation that it will surpass 50% by 2021. Ensuring that your strategy is mobile-led opens huge opportunities for loyalty and personalisation, however there is more to mobile strategy than creating an app, as it needs to be integrated with business models and processes. In this session we look at how to bring business and mobile together.

    Vincent Fillon, Director, Mobile Strategy & Development, Air France

    11:50 - 12:20

    Tech Trend: Approaches to delivering innovation and experiences, faster

    As part of digital transformation, organisations are told how they need to co-create, be agile, fail fast, scale fast… so what do these terms mean in practice? In this session we explore innovation-led approaches such as agile delivery and DevOps automation, and assess their impact from a strategy, organisation and skills perspective.

    Speaker: Travel provider Head of Transformation TBC
    12:25 - 12:55

    Case Study: Yielding right time, place, person and recommendation rewards through AI

    Sophisticated AI models hold the key to an adaptable and agile yield strategy that can maximise retention and business value, enabling you to compete with online travel agents. This session will explore how machine learning and AI can be used to secure direct bookings through a dynamic pricing model relevant to the customer.

    Speaker: Travel provider TBC
    12:55 - 14:00

    Lunch and networking

    14:00 - 14:30

    Deep Dive: Making the most of existing systems and services

    Existing systems can often feel like a source of constraint and inertia, but they can also be seen as sources of high-quality data and services that can feed your business strategy and drive customer experiences. This session explores how to make the most of legacy and work with existing reservation systems, whilst still delivering on travellers’ current and future needs.

    Speaker: Technology expert TBC
    14:35 - 15:05

    Case Study: New Distribution Capability as an enabler

    Hotels moving to e-distribution are finding its real-time nature both a blessing and a curse, particularly as it impacts dealing with distribution partners and revenue management. We talk to a provider about lessons learned with NDC, how to overcome potential hurdles such as communication of price changes, and what still needs to be done to enable frictionless pricing and revenue automation.

    Speaker: Travel provider Head of Revenue TBC,
    15:10 - 15:40

    Keynote fireside chat: what makes a successful startup?

    We speak to a VC about how to deliver on the potential for travel.

    15:40 - 16:20

    Start Up Showcase

    Finalists in the startup pitching competition get their chance to present to the movers and shakers of the travel industry – that is, you.

    16:20 - 16:50

    Final keynote/panel: Rethinking digital transformation

    In this session, we review what we were told in the survey we undertook on Day 1, and ask what it means to digital transformation strategy.


    Close of day two

Event Partners

Association Partners

Media Partners

Brought to you by

We use cookies to operate this website and to improve its usability. Full details of what cookies are, why we use them and how you can manage them can be found by reading our Privacy & Cookies page. Please note that by using this site you are consenting to the use of cookies.