Key takeaways and highlights 2019

Last night I returned to Yorkshire with a head full of knowledge, a pocket full of business cards and sore feet in need of a hot bath! The last two days were spent amongst great company at the London Olympia as I attended Travel Technology Europe in connection with the Business Travel Show.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this event but thought it would be a great starting point and a way to share my thoughts on the changing travel sector from a translation and localisation perspective.

We will be launching our eBook, “Globalisation and the future of travel”, this time next month and the Travel Technology Europe event was perfectly timed; allowing me to get some initial feedback on our content from industry experts.

Although I was unable to attend quite a few of the sessions, the ones I did were incredibly insightful. So on this Friday afternoon, please let me share five of my key takeaways and highlights from the #TTEShow 2019.

1. Future demand – competition = potential markets for growth

In a panel discussion about breaking into new overseas markets Joel Brandon-Bravo, VP of Travel Solutions at TransPerfect suggested that the equation above is one good way of identifying new markets for the travel sector.

Look at the future travel demand for a particular territory, minus the competition already active in this market, and you will have a clearer impression of where the real opportunities for growth are.

2. Millennials continue to drive change

In the same session, Sienna Parulis-Cook from Dragontrail Interactive touched upon the fact that Chinese travellers born between 1980-89 are driving a lot of the changes in terms of booking methods. This generation, not just in China, are more likely to travel independently of a tour operator or booking agent, choosing to build their own itineraries.

Millennials are also the biggest spenders in this sector due to disposable income and a sense of adventure and exploration.

3. Personalisation is key

There were quite a few sessions looking at providing a more personalised experience for existing and new travel customers. James Skellington’s session focused on hints and tips for improving email marketing campaigns, where he shared insight from his experience working at Force24.

James stressed the importance of “listening” to your customers and sharing content that is tailored to their needs and wants – don’t just send them irrelevant content. It’s better to send personalised content infrequently and maintain your company’s integrity. This is more likely to lead to conversions than email bombing.

4. Engage customers with traveller content

In a technology huddle with Andy Mallinson of Stackla, we learnt how to turn “lookers into bookers” by harnessing the power of user-generated content (UGC).

Andy mentioned some impressive figures that I wanted to share here:

  • 3.6 billion pieces of content are published online every day
  • 80-90% of travellers will post about their holidays on social media
  • 50-60% of people wanting to book a holiday will look at where their friends have been and make the decision based on referrals

Stackla’s platform focuses on visual UGC whereby travel organisations let their customers tell their company story for them. Rather than paying social media influencers to promote their businesses, it’s about influencing with integrity through more authentic, less staged content.

In fact, in Andy’s experience, the use of traveller content on a company’s website leads time on page and click through rate to increase twofold!

5. AI adoption in customer service

In another tech huddle, this time with my new friends at Unbabel, we discussed the incorporation of AI in the customer service function.

Within the group, not a single company were already using AI in this area of their business through fear and concern over the quality of using robots to handle customer enquiries. Although not specifically related to machine translation, the main challenge many were facing is trying to automate as many processes as possible, whilst maintaining a human touch.

Unbabel specialises in multilingual customer service solutions, incorporating AI technology with human editors worldwide. Whether referring to chatbots, FAQs, knowledge bases, etcetera, Unbabel were able to reassure the members of our huddle that AI is not as scary as they might think.