Business Travel Show Europe Kick Off, 23 February,
Global Travel Risk Summit Europe, April 2023,
3rd Annual Sustainable Business Travel Summit
BBT has rounded up the key discussions and topics from the different sessions at the ACTE/CAPA Amsterdam conference so far…
KLM’s CEO Peter Elbers asked the conference what would be the disruptor in the airline industry after Airbnb in accommodation, Netflix for TV and Uber for taxis. He also spoke about KLM’s digital strategy and how generic apps, such as Facebook Messenger, are the future.
Elbers talked through his airline’s digital developments, designing a “mobile only not mobile first strategy”. He added: “Increasingly whatever people do, it should fit onto a small screen, everything developed is going to mobile.”
DistributionCAPA’s executive chairman Peter Harbison predicted “dramatic changes ahead” for distribution and started his session with some statistics around the use of business travel among corporates: “Between 2014-16, only 2 per cent flew in business class on flights over 9,000km, flights over 15,000km 4 per cent and over 17,000km just 9 per cent.”
ChinaDavid Scowsill, president and CEO of World Travel and Tourism Council, predicted that major industry growth will be driven by the Gulf region and China: “Look what Beijing does in the next few years to see where this sector is heading.”
NationalismAir Asia chief executive Tony Fernandes said a “rise in nationalism” is one of the reasons for the row over protectionism in the airline industry.
“We have seen it in American politics, in Brexit…I could use Singapore as an example: it’s a very liberal country but if the government had to choose between the national airline and mine for a new route then who do you think they are going to choose? Whereas the customer will decide based on quality of service and price.”
Fernandes also spoke about the decision to award Heathrow the third runway and the following political fallout, calling the whole situation “ridiculous”. Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker, who sits on the board of Heathrow, said “it’s crazy as everyone sees the economic benefits but continues to put hurdles in the way”.
Sharing economyThe issue of the sharing economy came up and one travel buyer at the conference said buyers needed to decide whether to “fight it or embrace it”. They added that traveller demand in their company had driven them to incorporate sharing providers into the travel programme.
Another buyer addressed security concerns by carrying out a lot of internal processes, and reminded hoteliers that “they have security issues too” and a traveller doesn’t know who else would be staying in the hotel at the same time and this line of thinking will “always bring up security concerns”.
AirlinesEasyjet’s head of business Anthony Drury said the airline was starting to look at more of a retail approach to ancillaries. "We have a contained customer for 1-4 hours, we see that as a great opportunity to become a retailer,” he said. “We are starting to digitise the shopping trolley on board and make that more of a retail experience.”
Ian Heywood, global head product and marketing, Travelport, said there is still a lot more airlines can do to maximise revenues. “I think traditional carriers are very poor in the merchandising space, the technology is there but the skillset isn’t. We don’t have many merchandising experts in traditional airlines and the structure is very much in this silo mentality.”
On the future of the airline industry EY’s global travel buyer Karen Hutchings said change won’t be driven by factors such as emerging markets but by the travellers themselves. “People want ease of travel no matter where they’re from – access to book quickly and simply”.
Hotel consolidationHRS chief executive Tobias Ragge warned hotel average daily room rates will rise on the back of increased consolidation in the industry. “Consolidation will be driven by the Asian and Middle East market, this will lead to higher ADRs as higher consolidation means more market power.” See the full story.
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