Convention Preview: Abta 2016 to gauge 10-year outlook

Convention Preview: Abta 2016 to gauge 10-year outlook

Prospects for the next 10 years will dominate the programme at The Travel Convention in October. Chief executive Mark Tanzer spoke to Ian Taylor

Are you ready for the future? That is the question The Travel Convention 2016 in Abu Dhabi in October will pose, with a two-day programme aimed at providing some answers.

It is the 10th convention since Abta moved to the current format so the conference will open with chief executive Mark Tanzer offering a brief look ‘back to the future’. Tanzer said: “We thought it useful to look back at what we predicted 10 years ago to see what happened quicker or slower than we thought, before looking at how things are going to change.”

Looking back

He said: “I thought the internet would be a broad platform. Now we see it increasingly monopolised with the centralising force of the big search engines.

“We thought social media would be something we would communicate through. Not many people foresaw how it would set the pace on communications and how quickly you have to respond now when things go wrong.”

The convention, for which Travel Weekly is trade media partner, will follow last year’s structure in looking at ‘our world’, ‘our industry’ and ‘your business’. Tanzer said: “The Travel Convention is about what is coming down the line. To manage a business you need to understand what is happening on the big stage, where the travel industry fits within that and where your business fits within the industry.

“There is so much disruption – security, migration, big switches in destination – people have to react quickly to events.

“The programme will be grounded in what people see every day as they come into shops. But it’s important to look strategically and consider how the industry will look in future.”


Discussion of that future will be led by speakers from outside the industry. Thimon de Jong, an expert on trends in culture and society and their effects on business, will ask, ‘Are you ready for the future?’. He will also turn his gaze on the behaviour of those under 30.

De Jong will be followed by Tom Chatfield, author of several books on digital culture, who will examine the impact of technology and gaming on behaviour.

Tanzer said: “The travel market is not just about wealth – people take different kinds of holidays. So Thimon will talk about broad socio-cultural trends and how people will behave in future, and then we’ll bring this to bear on travel.

“Tom will talk about technology. The huge growth in gaming has changed all sorts of behaviour. So what are the lessons for approaching a generation brought up on games?”

These will be the opening sessions of a programme that finishes mid-afternoon each day to allow plenty of time for networking.

Tanzer said: “The Travel Convention is a key event if you’re running a business, but it’s also about coming together to network, talk and socialise with people experiencing the same things. That is important when the industry is in a state of flux. No other conference will have as a big a gathering, coming at the end of the season when we know what is happening.”

The venue should add to the occasion. He said. “We’re very aware of the aviation capacity going into the UAE. It’s increasingly a global world and Abu Dhabi is at the world’s crossroads.

“It is developing tourism and thinking about the social structure you need to facilitate that. I was struck by the fact that people [working there] buy into what Abu Dhabi is doing – they are bringing their families over, learning the language. Tourism isn’t just 
about high-rise hotels, it’s about people. Abu Dhabi understands that and is planning for it.”


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