When the internet was in its infancy in the late 1990’s, a topic for debate was the expected impact of the digital age on our physical life experience. Would people still travel for business? Would face to face meetings still be worth the cost? Or would humanity retreat into virtual techno-caves, where business was conducted remotely via video conference and where people, like news presenters, only need worry about how they look from the waist up?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and now we know better. Now we live in a world where the digital and physical have learnt to co-exist and actually enhance each other. One of those physical interactions with an uncertain future was exhibitions. However, if you visited the Business Travel or Travel Technology Europe events at Olympia in February, you’ll know that thousands of people are still making an annual pilgrimage to discover the latest developments and catch up with peers from across the industry. The Business Travel Show was my first with Amadeus and it was my first attendance after a gap of some 5 years.
Obvious value but hidden dangers
I can see why the appeal of exhibitions has stood the test of time: hundreds of exhibitors and scores of presentations and product demonstrations all under one roof. For visitors, it’s an efficient way to consume information – like an all-you-can-eat buffet! And like a buffet it can result in indigestion of the information kind. There are other potential problems too.
Without exception, the customers I met at Olympia reported discovering lots of new information, which no doubt justifies the cost of getting there as well as the wear and tear on your shoes and feet! But a problem arises if you allow your business updates to be scheduled by organisers of an annual event. A lot changes in a year and businesses really can’t afford to wait for an annual update from key suppliers.
This became crystal clear to me when I think of how Amadeus has forged ahead in just the past 8 months since I joined the company. As you know, Amadeus is on a journey from being a highly efficient, global sales and distribution channel, to a technology company that goes way beyond what a GDS offers.
It’s time to get on board with the journey
So my message to customers is this: don’t assume we’re only interested in – or capable of working with you on – GDS related topics. First and foremost we’re a technology company. Talk to us about your business headaches, your content access concerns, and your “mind the [efficiency] gap” process troubles. You’ll be amazed at what’s coming out of the Amadeus labs (I’ll tell you more details in a future blog post). Think of it this way… you’ll get an 11-month head start on visitors to next year’s exhibitions.