Travel Distribution Summit 2011 – A Great Success

You may remember I posted not so long ago about the Travel Distribution Summit, which was held in London this June.  I attended the event and wanted to share with all those who couldn’t make it, my thoughts and opinions,share some insight’s into what was discussed and the latest trends we all came away with as well as my own personal highlights.

If you remember, there was a huge list of speakers, so planning your time is critical to ensure you get the most out of the event.  All kinds of topics were covered, from social media and online marketing, to revenue management, to mobile technology, so there was a wide range in industry experts giving their thoughts (and a little self promotion along the way!).

For those who have not attended in previous years, the Travel Distribution summit is held annually at the Business Design Centre in London.  It’s made up of a mixture of supplier stands and several conference/seminar rooms where you can attend to hear from industry leaders and people with something new to say about the given topics.  These are wide-ranging – some are free, some you have to pay for (whilst on the topic, I do feel that the admission price is a little steep – but it is a great event) and of course, it’s a great place to network with colleagues from the travel industry. 

I actually felt there was quite a big presence from the hospitality industry this year, both in terms of speakers and attendees which was great to see.

As for highlights, two sessions stood out for me.  The first was to finally watch Josiah Mackenzie present live.  I’ve followed Josiah’s passionate work in hotel social media and online marketing for a number of years, and he really knows his stuff.  What you find so often at events such as this are speakers who have been brought in because of their job title, rather than ability to present and relevent content to provide.  Josiah’s passion for what he does shines through and the whole room was gripped, intently listening to what he was telling us.

The second highlight was a debate that saw Naveen Selvadurai, Co-Founder of Foursquare, Dave Scheine, Director of European Operations at Yelp and Andy Ellwood, Director of Business Development, Gowalla.  A very impressive list!  In particular, I really enjoyed hearing from Naveen, explaining how Foursquare came about, how it’s changed and what makes its model very different from other competitors.  I also found it humours to see that people tweets were appearing on the screen behind the stage, with the same one popping up time and time again “I bet you guys were really pissed when Facebook Places launched”. 

I should probably also give a mention to the Keynote Debate on customer Tech and Trends, called, “How will your customers interact with you through and beyond 2011”. Taking part in this debate was Romain Roulleau, SVP e-Commerce at Accor Hotels, Danny Barrasso, Senior Director of e-Commerce at Hilton and Alun Williams, e-Commerce director at TUI.  Very interesting topics covered here, including each mobile strategy and mobile web strategy.  I particularly liked Romain’s presentation of what Accor have done, what didn’t work so well and plans for the future.  Accor time and time again show their belief in investing in as many channels as possible and drive this forward year in year out.

My only negative point was probably the fact that some of the smaller conferences taking place lacked relevent content. I don’t really appreciate someone telling me that social media is still unproven, and that experts should be brought in to manage it.  Come on. Please. You could have said that 10 years ago. Today’s different (I’m naming no names!).

Thanks to everyone involved with Travel Distribution Summit 2011, it was a great couple of days, and looking forward to next time.

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