Top tech experts and travel brands share insights at Travel Forward

Delegates at Travel Forward – the travel technology event co-located with WTM London – will hear from the likes of Google, Facebook and Expedia about hi-tech ways that travel will innovate from 2020 onwards.

Expert speakers from global tech giants will join executives from multinational travel firms such as easyJet, Accor and KLM at a two-day conference, which is part of the three-day Travel Forward (Monday 4 – Wednesday 6 November).

The keynote speaker on the first morning (4 November) is Becky Power from Google UK, who will discuss how advances in digital technology can help travel businesses to stay competitive and improve customer loyalty. Her session will look at the latest innovations in the travel industry, with case studies outlining how technology has been successfully applied within the industry – and how these breakthroughs been driven by the changing needs of consumers. She started her career as a consultant at Accenture before joining Google 13 years ago, and is also a mentor for Ceresa, a mentoring initiative to help more women take on leadership roles.

She will be followed by Harj Dhaliwal from Virgin Hyperloop One, a pioneering mass transit system that aims to transport people and goods at nearly 700 miles per hour. Plans for the world’s first hyperloop project have been approved in India, aiming to link Pune and Mumbai in less than 35 minutes – compared to the current three-and-a-half-hour road journey. Dhaliwal will outline how the $10 billion scheme can create a blueprint for a hyperloop network across India – and update delegates about plans for similar Virgin Hyperloop One projects across the globe, from the US to the Middle East.

The afternoon sessions will showcase hi-tech ways to improve the experience for leisure and business travellers. Anette Schouls from KLM will talk about how she and her team harness the latest digital technology to help the airline’s passengers. Their recent flagship project was the new KLM Crown Lounge at Schiphol Airport, which welcomes 5,000 visitors from around the world every day.

She will be followed by three speakers for the session entitled ‘The zero-friction customer journey’Alex Dalman from advertising and marketing firm VCCP; Morwenna Francis from EasyJet; and Siobhan McWeeny from Facebook. Dalman helped to create easyJet’s Look&Book app which enables users to book a flight from just a photograph, and she will join Francis to discuss how it has helped the no-frills airline. McWeeny will reveal trends and insights from Facebook showing delegates how they can reduce friction for customers.

Two keynote sessions on the conference’s second day will examine the influence of ‘Generation Alpha’ and explore trends in the hospitality sector. The keynote speech about Generation Alpha by Andrew van der Feltz, from Expedia Group Media Solutions, will feature research findings about the emerging cohort of travellers born after 2010. They have grown up with technology, digital content and instant gratification and can influence family holiday decisions and the future of travel. He will be followed by Accor’s Frederic Fontaine who will use case studies from the hotel giant to demonstrate how organisations can change in a sustainable way, and put the customer at the centre of their planning.

Across the two days of Travel Forward delegates will have learnt about the transformative impact technology across the travel landscape, and how to harness digital capabilities to deliver on the joint goals of better customer experiences, and sustainable business value. In the Final Panel: Rethinking digital transformation session, speakers and panellists from across the two days will review insights and discuss: how can delegates take these learnings forward, embracing strategies to deliver innovation across their organisations?

Now in its second year, Travel Forward at ExCeL London features a conference, exhibition and Startup Showcase programme – which concludes at 16:30 in the TF Keynote Theatre on the Tuesday – designed to help senior decision-makers to plan for the future.

As well as top executives in the Keynote Theatre, the conference will feature other sessions in the TF Conference Theatre 2, looking at issues such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, business growth and marketing.

Richard Gayle, Event Manager for Travel Forward said: “Last year’s inaugural event was a great success and we’re building on that to offer delegates even more in 2019 – more ideas about how the industry will look in the 2020s and more solutions to overcome the biggest challenges facing the travel industry. “Travel Forward is the event that embraces fresh concepts and innovative projects to inspire delegates. The motivational speakers in our keynote theatre will share their stories of entrepreneurship and cutting-edge technology, which will galvanize our visitors.”

Monday 4 November: Conference Sessions in the TF Keynote Theatre


Keynote: From booking systems to business value: How to deliver on digital technology advances to stay competitive, improve loyalty and retention, and deliver experiences.

Becky Power, Travel Sector Director, Google UK


Virgin Hyperloop One: Pushing the boundaries of transportation

Harj Dhaliwal, Managing Director Middle East & India, Virgin Hyperloop One


Transforming the digital airport experience for business customers

Anette Schouls, Manager Digital Airport Services, KLM 


The zero-friction customer journey

Alex Dalman, Senior Account Director, VCCP; Morwenna Francis; Marketing Manager, EasyJet; and Siobhan McWeeny, Client Partner Travel UK, Facebook

Tuesday 5 November: Conference Sessions in the TF Keynote Theatre


Keynote: Generation Alpha: How the World’s Youngest Generation is Already Influencing Travel

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Keynote: Customer-centricity and personalisation in the hospitality industry

Frederic Fontaine, Innovation Lab Senior Vice President, Accor


Startup Showcase finale


Final panel: Rethinking digital transformation

Moderated by Jon Collins.

To reserve your place at the Travel Forward conference click here.

 About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) portfolio comprises eight leading B2B events across four continents, generating more than $7 billion of industry deals. The events are:

WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. About 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating about £3.4 billion in travel industry contracts.

Next event: Monday 4 – Wednesday 6 November 2019 – London #IdeasArriveHere

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About Reed Travel Exhibitions

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Julia Newbound – WTM Portfolio Press & PR Lead

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Nicole Smart – WTM Portfolio PR & Events Consultant

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About the author

Linda Hohnholz