What we learned at Phocuswright Europe 2019

Recently the team took our yearly trip to Amsterdam to attend Phocuswright Europe, a yearly gathering of decision makers from across the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors. This year a stellar lineup of leading travel and technology speakers from across the globe shared insights to a crowd of over 600 attendees across the two-day event.

Andrew van der Feltz presents Gen Alpha

During a lively breakout session on day one of the conference, we had the opportunity to share findings from our latest study, Gen Alpha & Family Travel Trends. The study uncovers how the world’s youngest generation is already influencing family travel. Born after 2010, Gen Alpha may be young, but their ideas and opinions and are already influencing family travel decisions. This generation is expected to be more educated, wealthier, and live longer than any generation before them. All of this means great potential for the travel industry.

The theme for Phocuswright Europe 2019 was Empires On Edge, with many speakers discussing the role of more established travel brands and how they will shape the market in years to come, particularly how they may interact with new entrants to the industry. Here three more interesting insights we gleaned from the conference.

Brexit is still causing industry uncertainty

Britain’s impeding departure from the European Union was referenced many times during the conference and it’s clear the European travel sector is still scrambling to put contingency plans in place as the new deadline creeps ever closer. During an executive roundtable discussion on the topic, Mark Tanzer, CEO of Association of British Travel Agents claimed ongoing uncertainly is negatively impacting consumer confidence and the ‘soft summer’ highlighted by several leading travel companies can in part be linked to Brexit. World Travel & Tourism Council president and chief executive, Gloria Guevara Manzo, talked about how her organisation is trying to quantify the impact on employment, estimating that over 700,000 jobs across the E.U. and the U.K. could be potentially be lost.

The future is bright for OTAs

Along with travel start-ups and industry bodies, OTAs were also well represented at Phocuswright Europe 2019. The event closed with an interview of Expedia Group’s very own Cyril Ranque, President of Lodging Partner Services, who discussed the future of OTAs with Phocuswire Editor in Chief Kevin May. During a wide-ranging conversation that spanned the consolidation of the travel industry, the emergence of new technology platforms and the benefits of operating at scale, Cyril painted a positive picture of role OTAs will play in the future. Responding to questions on the conference theme, Empires On Edge, he claimed that leading brands must always be on the edge of being challenged if they want to achieve greatness.

Cyril Ranque on stage at Phocuswright Europe

Digital remains a priority for established brands

Travel tech start-ups were well represented at Phocuswright Europe, but with many more established travel brands lacking the budget or technical skills of more tech-focused organizations, the challenge keeping up with new entrants was widely discussed. A roundtable featuring leading air, hotel and destination executives tackled the topic of digital transformation, discussing how the fight for customer attention can be tackled through technology.

We had a fantastic time at Phocuswright Europe and hope to see you at next year’s event. In the meantime, you can stay up to date on our latest news and research by subscribing to our blog via the form above, or following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.