Posted by Scott Davies (Commercial Director, Amadeus UK)
I’ve just returned from the Avantage 2012 Conference with an inspiration surplus and a sleep deficit!
Advantage is a leading consortium of independent travel agents and its annual conference is a key event in the travel industry calendar. This year it was held in Malta, with 420 members and suppliers in attendance to network and explore the issues facing independent travel companies in 2012 and beyond.
The Advantage team again organised an excellent conference with thought-provoking content and great opportunities to meet so many key industry players in one place.
One speaker who really caught my attention was futurologist and trendspotter Magnus Lindkvist (@trendymagnus). Magnus touched on the impact of people and data becoming increasingly mobile (when you learn that there are now more mobile phones than toothbrushes in the world you know that things are moving fast). He also posed the brilliant; are you competing or creating ?
It sounds innocuous enough. The premise is, if businesses focused more on creating and less on simply competing, think how much better things could be (Apple is of course a well-worn but perfectly valid example). Spending too much time playing catch-up with and fretting about the pricing of your rivals is a stifling treadmill, whereas the freedom that comes from pioneering and daring to be different really is within everyone’s reach.
I think the reason Magnus’s speech struck such a chord with me is that I work for a company which focuses on creating new products and services that help make life better for our customers and their customers. We pay as much attention to our competitors as any winning organisation should, but we never lose focus on pushing ourselves to be the best we can be each day. Something similar happens in the Olympics. When athletes compete against their own Personal Best, you know that they are giving all they’ve got to give – and it takes them to new heights.
Like all good travel professionals, the Advantage members and their business partners demonstrate best practice in the work hard / play hard stakes, hence the sleep deprivation. But it’s a price worth paying for the many fascinating conversations and new business opportunities generated over the three days of the Conference.
The general feeling from the many people I met was that the business outlook for Advantage’s members is “cautiously optimistic”, despite the external economic headwinds.
Those who focus on creating more (whilst remaining competitive of course) really should be able to finally drop that “cautiously” bit at long last.