ASATA Innovation Summit leads conversation on industry hot topics

Innovation is not just about fixing problems, but it’s also about exploring the ideas that drive the conversations and debate that lead to the best solutions an industry needs to thrive. This was the sentiment expressed by the travel industry leaders who attended ASATA’s inaugural Innovation Summit on the 14 March 2019 at the Forum in Bryanston.

The event kicked off with the CEO of ASATA, Otto de Vries’s welcome and opening address. De Vries urged the industry to participate as a collective who have a responsibility to drive change and disruption, not only at the Summit but in their everyday work lives, so as to ensure the sustainability of the industry as a whole.

De Vries’s opening set the tone for the event – issues were to be addressed frankly, and debate was encouraged.

Henry Harteveldt, Travel Industry Analyst of the Atmosphere Research Group set the current industry scene and pointed out some of the biggest challenges the travel trade is currently facing:

  • Travellers needs are changing.
  • Digital channels are constantly evolving and forcing the travel industry to keep up.
  • Customers’ loyalty has declined, they expect to purchase travel as though they were shopping for apparel.
  • Travellers demand a variety of payment options and expect travel agents and airlines to keep up.

Stuart Adamson Group Director: Media and Partnerships Group of the Thomas Cook Group was up next. His presentation on how the Thomas Cook group revolutionised its business model to suit the needs of the customer to stay profitable provided a good example of how innovation is a concept to be embraced and not feared. Adamson encouraged travel industry stakeholders to learn as much as possible about their customer to give them the best offer.

After lunch, a panel discussion on the New Distribution Capability (NDC) was had by Yanik Hoyles, Director, Industry Distribution Programs of IATA , Jan Buyckx, Manager, Global Air Solutions Strategy and Data Sourcing of Amadeus and Jason Nooning, GM of Global Air Distribution of Flight Centre Travel Group. Questions from the delegates highlighted the issues travel agents face around concerns on how NDC will impact agents’ workflow, transparency in fares, and on how the NDC is expected to affect how travel agents can market fares to their customers.

Livia Vite, Head of Airline Partnerships International of eNett International; Chris Wood, Head of Card Issuing and Payments of Nedbank Limited, and Jorge Dieguez, IATA Assistant Director/Member And External Relations/Finance And Distribution were part of the panel discussing the future of payments in the travel industry. The discussion highlighted how issues – security, fraud and transparency – within the payments sphere were heavily dependent on the behavioural changes the leisure and business traveller was expected to make.

The day was concluded by the author of Disrupting Africa: The Rise And Rise Of African Innovation, Nnamdi Oranye. Oranye shared a new perspective on business and how as African leaders we must shift our perspectives on not only how we do business in Africa, but how we view business in Africa. Within 70 years, 40% of the world’s population will be living in Africa, with 35% of the 100 largest cities in the world being on the continent, said Oranye.

Oranye said that if we pay attention to population growth as one of the key indicators of economic growth, we’d then realise that Africa has immense opportunities for expansion in the travel industry. Click here to watch Oranye share his view on how travel leaders should focus on driving innovation in Africa.