David Chapple Column
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
It seems a long time ago now, but when I was a lad the future held all sorts of wonder.
In a golden era for space exploration, I couldn't wait for tomorrow. There I'd be in front of the telly - Wagon Wheel and Panda Pop in hand - as Captain Kirk and Co roamed the universe righting wrongs and generally proving how great the human race was.
As the Starship Enterprise zoomed off into the distance each week, my mind would buzz with questions. "Will we ever have doors that open automatically?", "How cool is that flip-open communicator-telephone thingy?" and "Why does Kirk always kiss the alien women?"
Perhaps it’s no surprise that I still find myself looking forward. As event director of both Travel Technology Europe and Hospitality Technology Europe, every day offers a fascinating glimpse of things to come.
While forecasting innovation is still as impossibly unpredictable as it’s ever been, the one thing that’s become clear is that ‘technology’ is no longer a thing; instead it is imbedded in every aspect of our lives. Children intuitively know how to get the best from the latest gadgets and even the most innocuous household appliances now come wifi enabled.
With that in mind it is vital to remain relevant. The planning for next year’s shows is already well under way, and I’ve been cheered by the results of feedback from this year’s visitors.
TTE celebrated its tenth anniversary in February, and amazingly, over a quarter of those who attended have come along at least three times before. This loyalty is great news, since it proves that we’re doing things right and have the exhibitors and conference programme that people want to see. To prove it, an amazing 95 per cent of visitors reported that the show had met or exceeded expectations.
What can we expect for February 2014? While I can’t give away too much just yet, it’s clear that industry is increasingly interested in marketing and social media, especially how it relates to mobile technology.
Suppliers across the travel and leisure industry continue to do more and more business through smartphones and tablets. And for hoteliers this is changing the dynamics of their business, allowing later and later booking from consumers keen to pick up a bargain.
This raises all sorts of challenges in terms of revenue management and distribution, though the savvy ones – that’s those making the most of the best technology – are driving business direct and wresting control of their inventory from the big OTAs.
SEO, email marketing, web design and reservation technology are also high up on peoples’ wish list for TTE 2014. Hopefully we’ll have the answers to all the questions you bring along – though I still can’t fathom why Kirk had a thing for the alien girls.