GBTA 2019 Convention Wrap-up: The Good, The Bad, And The Exciting Future Of Our Industry

GBTA 2019 Convention Wrap-up The Good, The Bad, And The Exciting Future Of Our Industry

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) concluded the 51st year of its hotly-anticipated annual convention last week in Chicago. With over 7,000 attendees enjoying the mild summer weather in Illinois, the event featured a range of discussions led by business leaders and celebrities plus more than 170 educational sessions about disruptive technology-driven products and services in the travel and hospitality industries.

Several well-established topics remained favorites at this year’s convention, including frictionless travel, blockchain, payment solutions, mobile, security, and methods for recruiting and retaining the best talent. However, while data security and risk management programs were well represented in sessions, the importance of these topics was not equally represented on the Expo floor, which was dominated by players in the distribution and travel management spaces.

Some of the newer topics that attracted big audiences (standing room only!) included NDC and One Order. These are clearly highly-involved and important topics, but unfortunately, with most of the sessions strictly limited to 30 minutes, it was difficult to get into depth.

NDC, which was established in 2012, aims to transform the distribution ecosystem. It’s modeled on modern retailing concepts and supports dynamic pricing plus a range of other features, such as stepped commissions. So, for instance, one traveler may be offered a flight for $429, and the travel agent would be paid 10.75% commission. Another traveler may be offered a flight for $419, and their travel agent would receive a commission of 10.25%. By applying these concepts, the industry would be able to manage and drive the channel in a far more granular fashion than possible today.

One Order takes NDC further by offering what DataArt calls door-to-door itineraries: think of one single booking record encompassing all of your travel booking components, updated in real-time with your location and status. One Order, when fully implemented, will not only know that you’ve paid for and ticketed your flight, but also that your Uber has dropped you off at the airport, you’ve boarded the plane, and the doors have closed! This advancement carries the potential for virtually limitless opportunities for improvements in customer engagement, location-based marketing (LBM) and communication services, duty of care concerns, and further tailoring the customer experience, all leading to unique itineraries and customer profiling.

These are all good ideas, but with the exponentially-increasing data created, the need to visualize, harness, and use this information means that those with the vision and capability to exploit it will leapfrog everyone else. Furthermore, I believe that an important area NOT covered by GBTA 2019 is the reality of how many of the varied topics covered in the sessions will actually converge over time and what this future landscape will look like. I think we would all derive enormous value from listening to industry visionaries as they paint a picture of what travel might look like in 2025, or 2030. I believe that it’s important for us to understand the possibilities, leading to debates about how the industry as a whole needs to function, who the important players are likely to be, and how we can gain the necessary skills now to ensure success in the exciting future of our industry.

Well, there you have it. While the 51st annual GBTA convention included many interesting and valuable discussions and educational sessions, I believe that it missed the opportunity to paint a vision of what travel will look like in the next ten years.

What are your thoughts about the impact of technology in the travel industry and where these advancements will take us in the coming years? It’s an exhilarating time in the world of travel, and I’d love to hear your ideas about the future landscape of our industry!

Please share your thoughts about the GBTA 2019 convention and the impact of technology in the travel industry with me andrew.sanders@dataart.com

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