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FITURTECH, the fair’s technology focused section, featured an opening keynote speech by Irene Cano, General Manager of Facebook Spain, and her presentation spurred the fair to an exciting start. During her presentation, Cano touched upon a number of intriguing statistics, including the remarkable fact that 42% of user generated content on the Internet is related to travel, which potentially makes every single person a publisher. Cano also highlighted some noteworthy mobile stats which suggest that 79% of people have their phones with them for all but two hours during their waking day. These stats underscore the pressing importance for travel players to develop mobile strategies if they have not already.
One of the world’s leading travel trade fairs,FITUR 2015 in Madrid, stirred up insightful discussions about travel and technology trends and how they will shape the future.
Cano went on to discuss the importance of social media for travel players: “Any business in the travel sector has to face three challenges: inspiration, conversion and retention”. She went on to lay out the case for Facebook in the travel cycle as a place to “dream, plan, book, experience and reflect” and the power of social media as emphasised in Facebook’s ‘Near and Now’ report, which said that tourists used to impact people 150 times with info about their trip, but now that number has risen to nearly 3 million times in the post-Facebook era.
Tim Cannon, from Grindhouse Wetware, a self-titled DIY cyborg, delivered a rousing presentation about using a combination of technology and biology to enhance his experiences as a human with two chips implanted in his hands that allow him to store info such as passwords and GPS coordinates. Cannon went on to expand on this concept in the context of travel with implantable andwearable devices designed to make travel smoother and stress free.
The event also featured a panel, with guest Fabrizio Giulio, Managing Director of Expedia Italy & Spain, who said that he believes that technology is about simplifying the experience of customers. Both Giulio and Filip Filipov, Head of B2B for Skyscanner, who participated in another panel, agreed with simplification of the experience and said that it’s important not to rely too much on the historic profile of users, but rather on the experience of similar users in similar destinations.
Finally, a presentation on PhocusWright’s report ‘Tracking Global and Local Technology and Distribution Trends in Accommodation’ by Florence Kaci, European Market Specialist of PhocusWright, explained that Europe has matched the US in online booking penetration in 2014 (44%) – which is interesting news for online travel agencies. Luke Bujarski, PhocusWright Research Director, said that there are new types of hotels catering to digital natives who aretech-savvy , which are becoming trendier in Spain. These hotels receive 60% indirect traffic and 40% direct, most of them have responsive design in their webs, and some even have their own apps, while the majority have free Wi-Fi and invest in social media.
Were you at the event? What were your takeaways?