Technology, travel advisers and the Phocuswright Conference

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What technologies will change the shopping, marketing and sales of travel in the future? Where are the venture capitalists and corporate investors looking for their next big deal in travel? These questions will be explored at the upcoming 2018 Phocuswright Conference, Nov. 13 to 15, in Los Angeles. (Note: The ticket price will increase $500 after Friday, Aug. 31.)

Perhaps the first questions you'd like answered are: Why should travel advisers be interested in attending? Isn't this conference all about online travel agencies and digital-only intermediaries?

Jenn Lee, vice president of sales and marketing for host agency Travel Planners International (TPI), will be attending the conference for the first time this year, and she thinks it will be an important event for her and the agencies that TPI hosts. "As we are making decisions about what technologies we should be investing in, we wanted to attend Phocuswright to see the new stuff as well as hear from the innovators in the industry. At TPI we're ready to make big things happen."

Advisers have had a longstanding relationship with technology. More than 50 years ago, they were considered to be on the leading edge with then-sophisticated automated booking systems on their desks. In the past two decades, the agency business has gone through a technological revolution and today, according to Phocuswright's U.S. Travel Agency Distribution Landscape: 2016-2021, which will be released this fall, the relationship between today's travel advisers and their clients are boosted by technology but not controlled by it. 

The shift home for today's leisure travel sellers -- more than 51% of respondents were home based, according to the study -- has led to a rapid embrace of technologies that help them communicate with their suppliers, their peers and their customers. They have adapted quickly to using social media and app-based texting methods, and they are adapting to mobile-friendly booking methods. 

In a previous study, Phocuswright's Travel Agency Distribution Landscape: 2008-2013, mobile usage was below 10 percent across the board. In the most recent study, with research just completed this summer, of the more than 1,500 respondents, 61% said they are doing research for their clients on mobile and 34% said they are using mobile to book travel. 

When asked why survey respondents were still calling to book products such as cruise and tour, the highest percentage were simply unable to book the specific product their customer wanted or needed online. It is the technology that needs to catch up to the product in order for the agency community to make even further tech shifts. 

Phocuswright Conference 2018

The Phocuswright Conference annually attracts nearly 2,000 innovators, decision makers and C-level executives, representing dozens of countries from every travel, tourism and hospitality sector. At this annual event, the most successful and influential companies and leaders in distribution interact to create new partnerships, exchange ideas and understand what competitors are doing. With the travel agency segment changing so rapidly, travel sellers and the suppliers who depend on this channel need to have the pulse of this continued technological change.

Phocuswright's signature session Executive Roundtable: Street Talk is dedicated to the intersection of finance, investment, M&A, IPOs and the world's largest industry: travel, tourism and hospitality. Wall Street's leading analysts on digital, travel and hospitality will share their perspectives on where the money, the market and its movers will go next.

The Innovation Summit and Launch will showcase companies representing the most innovative in two categories -- Innovation Summit (young companies) and Launch (established companies). The program is packed with market-changing innovations presented in a fast-paced, no-holds-barred environment. 

Phocuswright analysts will lead executive interviews with leadership from Expedia, Airbnb, Booking Holdings Skyscanner, Lyft, AccorHotels, Hilton Hotels, TripAdvisor, KAYAK,and Ctrip among others. 

Topics tackled from the center stage and breakout sessions will include: the latest innovations impacting the traveler lifecycle; Research presentations and sessions geared toward the evolving travel and distribution market, regions like India and Europe, plus the state of digital travel; The leading intermediaries and business partners distributing travel products; and Valuable sessions on how the broader digital travel market impacts the traveler lifecycle.

In a recent article in Phocuswire, Trisept Solutions' President and CEO John Ische positioned the relationship between agents and technology as the ability to create what he termed "genuine intelligence" about a traveler.  "Only a travel professional can unleash the awesome power of Genuine Intelligence -- true, human intelligence fueled by the agent's passion, with technology as the servant, and not the master."

The completed U.S. Travel Agency Distribution Landscape: 2016-2021 will be available for purchase this fall. For further information on sponsorship or custom research from this study contact Kimberly Newbury at [email protected].

Understanding that relationship and where the technology is going is critical. The Phocuswright Conference will provide the discussion and insights to better understand the future.

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