The World Aviation Festival: Celebrating diversity and endless innovation
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the World Aviation Festival, the largest conference for airline and airport business models. In London, more than 4500 attendees representing all sectors of the airline business discussed sustainability, digital transformation, distribution, airline retailing, marketing, loyalty, and all things travel.
It was my first time attending this event, and I was blown away by the diversity and authenticity of perspectives and the entrepreneurship from around the globe.
Bringing price and picture together
ATPCO was among the proud sponsors of this event, exhibiting alongside 200 organizations –from large tech companies like IBM to start-ups who are bringing their big ideas to the table. Out of many interactions we had with attendees, exhibitors, and speakers, I could group those discussions into three categories.
The largest category was those who knew ATPCO and Routehappy well and were inquiring about our latest progression on Next Generation Storefront (NGS), NDC Exchange, and Retailing Solutions.
Next were those who know ATPCO’s core business of fare filing well but were not aware of how ATPCO has been innovating and transforming in the last few years. I found those discussions especially enjoyable because my new acquaintances understood the business well enough to have a deep appreciation for our latest initiatives like NGS and NDC services.
We talked about how NGS data standards, which enable distribution channels to better present and find airline products, will transform the travel shopping experience for the consumers.
The airline distribution leaders I spoke with also had a deep appreciation for ATPCO taking on the burden of closing technology gaps to help the industry adopt NDC by developing NDC services. These attendees often left our booth saying something like, “ATPCO has come a long way in the last few years and is way beyond the fare filling now.”
The third category was the smallest—industry newcomers and entrepreneurs who were not familiar with ATPCO. I enjoyed being able to explain the reach we offer them because we work with over 430 airlines and 120 channel partners.
I loved hearing about new ideas and better ways of doing things. I thoroughly appreciated being able to interact with several entrepreneurs who are working on new ideas for in-flight entertainment and for services to keep you entertained when your flight is delayed or cancelled. Their goal is to offer passengers who are waiting not just hotel and meal vouchers, but also many more options, such as free or discounted tickets to local sightseeing, theater performances, concerts, sporting events, or beauty services—so the once-unlucky situation can be turned into a wonderful experience.
While enjoying my hot meal on my flight home, I was remembering conversations I had with entrepreneurs in the film industry who were making a documentary on airline food. Yes, there is something for everyone at this event!
“Be more afraid of the opportunities you do not take.”
One of the events I most enjoyed was the Women in Travel Mixer led by Alessandra Alonso, a coach, consultant, and founder of Women in Travel—now a social enterprise aiming to empower women and communities through employability and entrepreneurship.
It was so rewarding to sit in the audience and watch our own head of marketing, Beth Taylor, on the speaker panel. Beth shared the story of launching ATPCO’s first women in technology program, Lead from the Front, which is aiming to improve executive decision-making by identifying fresh perspectives and strong leaders who could grow into senior management and technology roles. As someone who is managing the streams of Lead from the Front program with over 120 participants, I felt especially proud and grateful that ATPCO stands behind diversity and supports career development by sponsoring programs like these. During the networking part of this mixer I quickly learned that not everybody could say that they are coming from the same type of supportive environment that I am.
The goal of this session was to spread awareness about the industry and the fact that it is for everybody. “You can be whatever you want to be” was the spirit of the conversation. The panelists advised that it is not always easy going after your dreams, but with determination, authenticity, and a support system, all is possible. They urged us all to “be more afraid of the opportunities you do not take.”
Inspired by all the wisdom and great conversation, I am looking forward to the next major industry gathering, Elevate 2019, ATPCO’s global conference. The event is right around the corner and promises to be inspirational, educational, and fun. There are still a few seats available and I am looking forward to seeing you there. Register today.