Travel Forward announces the first set of keynote speakers for its inaugural event this November, with the confirmed names representing business-to-business specialists Travelport, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and hotel group CitizenM. The brand new event offering the next generation in technology for travel and hospitality will be co-located with WTM London 2018 and is part of the WTM portfolio of events.
The Travel Forward conference, exhibition and buyer program will take place from 5 – 7 November 2018 at ExCeL London, UK. It will bring together suppliers and buyers from the travel, tourism and hospitality ecosystem, who are responsible for leading, managing and delivering their business’ strategy and employing innovative technology and applications.
UK-based Travelport is a truly global travel distribution business with more than 4,000 employees and a presence in some 180 countries and territories. One of the key roles in any technology-focussed business is the chief architect, and Mike Croucher took on this role at Travelport in 2014.
He is one of the keynote speakers for Travel Forward. As chief architect, he is responsible for the technology infrastructure of the business, ensuring that Travelport’s own systems are able to cope with not only its own expansion but also the demands from its enterprise customers for quicker response times, better stability and the ability to integrate new paradigms such as artificial intelligence, apps and the cloud.
Croucher has more than 20 years or so experience of software engineering, product delivery and development and IT systems in travel, allowing him to discuss current industry and IT trends in a historical context.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel is one of the world’s leading travel management companies, offering a variety of services to business travellers, corporations and governments. Technology is playing a vital role in the development of business travel and Carlson Wagonlit is one of the most dynamic in terms its ongoing internal digital transformation and the development and deployment of its own portfolio of specific tools and solutions.
Utpal Kaul is head of new product incubation at Carlson Wagonlit and will be speaking at Travel Forward. His role is to oversee new tools and solutions to serve better existing requirements from clients while also having an eye on the short, medium and long-term in terms of what tech solutions need to be developed in order to fulfil the future needs of travellers and corporations.
For businesses such as CWT, “travel management company” is a more accurate shorthand than “business travel agent” and reflects the scope of technology in managing, measuring and fulfilling all aspects of corporate travel. Another segment which has been impacted by tech is hospitality, where distribution, marketing, on-property experience, loyalty schemes and operations, among others, have all been disrupted by technology.
CitizenM opened its first hotel in Amsterdam in 2008, aligning the brand with the modern-day business and leisure traveller. It currently has 13 properties, with a further nine hotels due to open in Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific.
Lennert de Jong is its chief commercial officer and takes a close interest in how technology can help improve the guest experience, from the booking through to the on-property experience, while also exploring how technology can contribute to improving revenues, enhancing operations, delivering on its sustainability initiatives, optimising its digital marketing spend and maximising its social media presence.
His session at Travel Forward will share some of the insights into how a digitally native hotel brand has kept ahead of the guest expectation curve and offers some learnings for travel suppliers from other segments who want to appeal to a forward-thinking customer base.
Richard Gayle, Event Manager, Travel Forward said: “This first set of speakers is a strong indication that Travel Forward is resonating with B2B tech giants, travel management companies, hotel chains and consumer brands.
“As we get closer to the opening day of the inaugural event we will be adding more A-list speakers from around the globe, representing the entirety of the digital travel and wider enterprise technology ecosystem.”