Special Report: Travel Convention 2017, Wednesday preview

Special Report: Travel Convention 2017, Wednesday preview

As hundreds of industry leaders gather in the Azores for Abta’s annual forum, Ian Taylor previews sessions, speakers and key issues

Redmond to help delegates gen up on generation game

The second day of The Travel Convention (October 11) promises some guidance on the rules of the ‘generation game’ we all now play and some reassurance about a future that is tipped to be dominated by artificial intelligence (AI).

Dr Paul Redmond, director of student life at Manchester University, will provide some ground rules on handling the five generations of people we encounter through and at work and “who all have different expectations”.

“I’ll focus on Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1999,” he says. “But I talk about ‘the silent generation’ born pre-1945, the ‘baby boomers’ born 1946-63, ‘Generation X’ born 1964-79, ‘Generation Y’ and ‘Generation Z’ born since 2000.”

Redmond describes Generation Y as “digital natives” who have “a sense of entitlement, don’t use terms like ‘holiday’ but go ‘travelling’, and are informal – which can cause problems with punctuality”.

AI may offer a way to deal with the punctuality issue, but Euan Cameron, AI leader in the UK at financial services giant PwC, believes intelligent machines are more likely to replace tasks than jobs, removing the mundane from work rather than the unpunctual from working. Let’s hope he is right. He will address the convention following Dr Redmond.

The main convention business sessions of the morning will be rounded off by Andy Washington, Dnata Travel Europe business-toconsumer chief executive. He will question whether the future will fit the millennial-dominated, datasharing vision so often predicted.

A choice of workshops either side of lunch (page 22) will carry the convention through to the final session of the afternoon featuring brothers Rob and Paul Forkan.

The pair survived the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, in which their parents died, and subsequently founded the Gandys flip-flop and fashion label to support their Orphans for Orphans foundation. They will talk on ‘Overcoming Adversity’ with convention moderator Chris Ship

Washington looks beyond millennial hype

The future of travel is “not all about millennials”, dnata Travel’s Andy Washington will tell The Travel Convention.

“We’re always hearing about millennials,” says the operator’s business to consumer chief executive for Europe. “But does it mean we change all we do? Are they the be all and end all? It’s not all about millennials. We need multi-segmentation.

“There is wonderful technology coming, but a lot of generations won’t embrace it. If you switch on all the technology, a lot of generations aren’t prepared for it.”

Cameron tips AI to bring benefits not malevolence

Travel will see increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI), but this need not mean wholesale job losses, argues Euan Cameron, AI leader at business consultancy PwC.

AI is already advancing in “more-sophisticated sectors such as financial services and telecoms”, he says.

In travel, he suggests: “AI will drill down to half-a-dozen holidays data suggests would be most interesting to a client, rather than a consumer look through a brochure.”

He acknowledges there are challenges, noting: “AI systems are ‘learning’ systems. AI doesn’t necessarily behave tomorrow as it does today. If you teach the systems wrong, they do things you would not expect.” But he insists: “Images of malevolent robots aren’t an accurate picture of what the future holds.

“The productivity benefits are enormous. There is the potential to automate mundane work. I’m very positive about the technology.”

Cameron will speak on Wednesday, October 11, at 10.15

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