Travolution Summit London

The Travolution Summit 2014 took place on November 24th in the award-winning building King’s Place, which offers two top quality concert halls and galleries which can be used for a  great variety of events like music, arts and conferencing.

The Travolution Summit has been showing the trends from the world of travel and technology in the UK. The aim is to turn London into the travel technology hub of Europe. This edition of the event started off with a presentation of Louise Cooper, Chartered Financial Analyst focusing on the economic crisis, the political turmoil in the UK and the instability in the eurozone. Then, Simon Breakwell, one of the founders of Expedia, emphasised the increasing power of TripAdvisor, Google, Onefinestay, HomeAway, Airbnb. One of the highlights of his speech was that “ has made an art out of the functionality of its website” and by spending £3.2 billion per year on marketing it stands ahead of its competitors. Simon Breakwell also stressed that company growth depends on finding A-players aka excellent employees who can drive the company forward.

The first workshop of the event was about activating search and social synergy to drive revenue and growth. David Gilbert, Head of Social at Kenshoo, showed how to improve the relationship between search and social campaigns to see double digit increase in conversations and ROI. This was followed by a discussion about cracking the incremental conversion code where the participants were:

  • Mark Varley, Managing Partner, MEC
  • Cian Weeresinghe, Chief Marketing Officer, Secret Escapes
  • Elliott Pritchard, Chief Marketing Officer, Travel Republic
  • Sylvain Piquet, Director, Business Intelligence & Account Strategy, Criteo

They advised online travel companies how to know which distribution channels and when they are performing best and where scarce marketing resources should be directed.

The most inspirational presentation was given by Jeff Coghlan, Founder, CEO & Creative Director, Matmi. The company Matmi is an award-winning agency, recently ranked in the Develop 100 list as one of the leading games agencies in the UK. Jeff Coghlan showcased a couple of their products. Firstly, the Optathlon was presented. It is an app-game specially developed for Untied Airlines who wanted to inspire more passengers to buy their improved products like more legroom, choosing your seats, priority boarding. Therefore, Matmi created an app-game where passengers were put in the airport environment and were trying to win over for example more legroom, and were competing with other passengers on the same flight. This app truly increased sales of additional products on United Airlines and engaged passengers much more. Matmi also created a heritage hunter app for West Somerset Rail which has proven to be a hit. In it, tourists play the app-game and when they get on the rail, they discover hidden treasures so they are motivated to travel to more stations. After they finish the game they are entitled to receive awards like discounts and treats. Jeff Coghlan highlighted that the mission of Matmi is to combine physical and digital features and thus improve the experience of tourists and change their behaviour as the app-games inspire them to travel more and engage more.

Then, three new companies explained their business models and these were:

1.  WeSwap – Jared Jesner & Simon Sacerdoti, Joint Founders

WeSwap is an innovative peer-to-peer foreign exchange website. It can offer a branded MasterCard for different companies. There is a very low commission of 1% per transaction.

2. TravelFund – Jasper Dykes, Founder & CEO and Enrico Di San Marzano, COO & Co-Founder

TravelFund, which operates under the brand name “Fly Now, Pay Later”, enables travellers to borrow up to £2000 at an average APR of 19.9pc.  TravelFund is partnering with leading tailor-made specialists Travelpack and Advance Payment Solutions Ltd (APS), one of Europe’s foremost payment solutions companies to launch this service.

3. What Now Travel?! – Tony Sandler, CEO

The company has created a smartphone app, London city guide, which offers transport guide and says which tourist attractions are within a certain transport route. The brilliant idea here is that the tourist checks the app, the app downloads the content about the routes and attractions, then on the next day the tourist can access this information with no wi-fi so without paying for roaming. Since its launch in April 2014 until today, the company has gotten 85,000 downloads of its app without any marketing activities. The company plans on creating apps for other big European cities as well in the future.

The afternoon workshop was lead by Russell Young, EMEA Sales Director – Sojern, and it was about big data. It shed light on how to drive sales and bookings to your site through advertising technology and how data-driven behavioural targeting enables more informed campaign decisions and marketing strategies to boost conversion rates.

A demonstration of the cutting-edge technologies in the travel industry was done by Joakim Everstin, Head of Innovations, Sabre Travel Network, EMEA. He showed how the Google glasses allowed you to search for flights and find your hotel room.

Travolution Summit 2014 finished off with a panel discussion between Kenny Jacobs, Chief Marketing Officer , Ryanair and Jason Clarke, Vice President & Managing Director, Global Sales, Travelport. They discussed how they enhanced their brands and technology strategies so as to answer the needs of travellers.

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