Overheard at Phocuswright Europe: What’s on travel’s mind?
- In Amsterdam for Phocuswright Europe last week, Impala’s co-founder and Head of Business Development Charlie Cowley overheard lots of discussions around the venue. These snippets offer a glimpse of the mood in the industry. So today, we’re turning the blog over to Charlie to share some of what he heard, and his reactions.
If there’s one thing I took from 48 hours at Phocuswright Europe, it’s that travel is booming. The venue was packed, with faces old and new - and it was wonderful to meet so many clients who were keen to find out how Impala can help their business grow. I’m lucky enough to spend my days talking to leaders in travel around the world, so events like these offer me a valuable perspective on what’s on the industry’s hive mind.
But the one drawback of a packed diary is that you can’t always stop for an impromptu chat. And there were several discussions I overheard as I was dashing from meeting to meeting that I really wanted to get involved in. So instead, I took note of some of the most interesting quotes I heard. I’m presenting them here - anonymously - along with my reactions.
I’d have never believed you if you told me ten years ago that in 2022, we’d still be talking about the plumbing
Phocuswright Europe 2022
“I’d have never believed you if you told me ten years ago that in 2022, we’d still be talking about the plumbing”
It’s absolutely true that travel deserves - indeed, needs - better infrastructure. Dated technology and slow integrations controlled by powerful middlemen still rule the roost in this industry. But frustratingly, another thing is true: there’s been no incentive for these middlemen to change anything. The most comfortable position for them has been sat on their hands, creaming off revenue from clients that until now, have had no alternative but to rely on their technology.
The good news is that things are finally starting to change. Travelers have come to expect an e-commerce experience akin to those offered in other sectors. And a range of new entrants - including Impala - are making it possible with Open Distribution. Modern new plumbing now exists - and the most forward-thinking hotels and room sellers are already adopting it.
For an industry which touches everyone, it’s insanely hard to find tech talent with the right expertise
Phocuswright Europe 2022
“For an industry which touches everyone, it’s insanely hard to find tech talent with the right expertise”
When travel bookings started going online in the late 90s, it made sense to find a way to connect existing technology to the internet. But today, in a world where disruptors like Deliveroo and Uber have developed global platforms capable of handling the needs of entire industries, travel’s fragmented approach is positively archaic.
And this archaic approach has a side effect which is often forgotten: the complexity and cost of hiring deep expert tech talent. The patchwork quilt of technology that travel relies on requires specialist engineers to build and maintain every seam. That’s a headache for any travel business that wants to build integrations: the more integrations you want to build, the more your need for expertise - and therefore spend and reliance on niche talent - grows.
Coronavirus, Ukraine, now the airports and airlines screwing things up for us. When will the disruption end?
Phocuswright Europe 2022
“Coronavirus, Ukraine, now the airports and airlines screwing things up for us. When will the disruption end?”
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that the predictable patterns have evaporated. Whether it’s source markets, length of stay, pricing, or cancellation policies, travellers no longer behave in a way you can accurately plan for.
But make no mistake: there are plenty of businesses in travel that are thriving at the moment, despite all the disruption that’s been thrown their way. That’s because they’re embracing the disruption, and accepting that this is the new status quo. The best news is that you can join them: get in touch with us to find out how, or read more in our blog posts below.
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