Abta’s Travel Convention in Seville will focus on trust. Chief executive Mark Tanzer explains why to Ian Taylor

‘Truth, Trust and the Future of Experts’ will be the theme of Abta’s 2018 Travel Convention, with chief executive Mark Tanzer saying: “People talk about the erosion of trust in politicians and experts, so where do you go? Who do you trust?

“Fake news entered the vocabulary with the election of Donald Trump, but we see it more and more. We’ll talk about these issues and how they impact your business – how you build confidence and trust.”

He said: “At the industry level, we’ve talked about the potential of big data for ages. But this year we’ve seen the challenges of big data around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.”

Data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica used personal data from 50-million-plus Facebook users to target US voters with political advertisements and boasted of involvement in fake news and dirty tricks. Facebook had known about the data breach since 2015 but did nothing until it was exposed. Tanzer said: “I wasn’t surprised [by the revelations] because it is what Facebook does. It’s how it monetises a free service.

“But [the story] put up in lights the serious ethical and consumerhandling issues around this.

“Facebook’s model is the way advertising agencies increasingly think of getting messages across. How are these techniques being applied and how do people feel about that?

“Cambridge Analytica threw up the question ‘What are the permissions you have?’ You can’t just assume consent. The new GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] rules are of a piece with this, and I don’t think we’ve ever talked about it.

“In an era of increasing scepticism and lack of trust, how do you build trust in a brand? That will be a key theme.”

Professor Paul Redmond of Manchester University, who was a hit at last year’s convention when he spoke on generational differences, will return to address this year’s event on artificial intelligence and ‘zombie jobs’.

Tanzer said: “How do you build a personal relationship with customers in an automated world, and how do you build trust in a brand?

“When we talk about brands, we’re not just talking about a recognised label. It’s a psychological phenomenon.

“We’ll be looking at the psychology of shopping.

“We’ll talk about how brands play out in the retail sector, which is a brand jungle; how you get loyal customers; and how you hang on to them.”

Tanzer hails host Seville as “a great city, but not perhaps best known to a lot of Brits”.

“It’s an extraordinary and a very beautiful city, but it’s the atmosphere – vibrant, open air, friendly – that most appeals.”

Delegates will stay at two hotels close together, with most accommodated at the Barceló Convention Centre Hotel which provides the venue.

Tanzer said: “People expect to be entertained, educated and inspired at the convention and we aim to deliver that. “It will be a forward-looking event, examining what is happening in the world and our industry, and how that will impact your business.”

Travel Weekly will again be official trade media partner of The Travel Convention 2018

October 8-10, Barceló Convention Centre, Seville:

More: thetravelconvention.com