On September 22 and 23 I attended the Eye For Travel Distribution Summit in Chicago. It was a jam packed two days. I formed around 30 new relationships, judged the 2013 Innovation awards and interviewed 5 travel startup founders and 2 leading travel CEOs.
I’ll be releasing the 7 video interviews over the next two months. This was my first foray into video interviews and it turned out fairly well.
From left to right the founders of the 2013 Innovation Awards.
1st Place Winner: Robert Brown Founder of Options Away, Kirby Winfield Founder Dwellable, 2nd Place Winner: Tedd Evers Founder Triptuner, Raj Beri Founder WanderWe, Jonathan Meiri Founder Superfly, Luca Perfetto Founder Freeppie.
Me hanging with the Italian founders of Freeppie. When my wife and I owned our boutique lodging property in our 20’s and 30’s we had a VW Vanagon just like in this picture. We used to transfer our fly-fishing guests to the trout streams in the Vanagon. Such a cool car.
Me interviewing David Millili the Chief Executive Officer of Pegasus Solutions about entrepreneurship and how he got started in the travel business. This was a really good interview.
Below are 10 key takeaways I learned at the conference.
- Distribution models are converging. OTAs, wholesalers, tour operators and Meta search engines business models are converging and hotels no longer believe that there are dedicated distribution channels.
- Mobile is the future yet hardly anyone in the audience is investing in mobile for their travel companies. This didn’t make much sense.
- There is a movement in big data to help personalize travel by knowing your purchase intent, where you are traveling to and your current location.
- There was a lot of talk about the millennial generation under 24 years old and how they make up to 40% of the global travelers. The millennial’s are highly active in social media and care about the environment.
- The most successful mobile apps provide a core utility to the user and help you solve a problem based on what you are thinking or feeling. I’ve talked about this before in previous posts. Read here. Check out Travel Mate a mobile app and technology for sale or license at Travel Pitch. The mobile app has great utility.
- Travel companies and hotels that offer user reviews alongside their sales offerings are over 100% more likely to be purchased vs. a travel product with no reviews.
- Hotels are moving towards showing more rich photos and less text based content. Travelers want photos.
- 30% of Orbitz bookings are now coming through mobile devices.
- Hotels are focusing on providing long term value to their customers rather than focusing on rate only in the short-term.
- Bespoke products and services will become increasing more important.