Travelport’s road to reinvention

Travelport’s road to reinvention

The annual Travelport conference kicked off in Seoul this morning, drawing a record 300 attendees and delivering a strong message to delegates to start facing the challenges and opportunities impacting the travel industry today. 

The conference theme this year focuses on future and innovation, two key subjects the GDS streams to users when developing new technology and applications.

Travelport, it appears, could easily have maintained its ethos as merely a transaction based technology company that faced disruption, but instead chose to continue to innovate and now boasts 20% of its revenue is attributed from beyond air and has managed to open significant opportunities for its travel agent clients.

According to keynote speaker, author Michael McQueen who specialises in assisting companies and brands navigate their way through change while exploring the cycle of relevance, the roads to irrelevance for businesses and the steps to win the battle for relevance, says delegates need to just ask themselves 2 questions to succeed.

  1. “Why do the mighty fall?”
  2. “What is it that separates the enduring from the endangered?”

While travel has always been on the forefront of disruption from the early days of sea travel when most would venture from A to B via ships until flying became the norm opening up the skies to masses, travel technology has faced its fair share of disruption.

One of the most profound statistics released today included how 1 in 16 online users have logged onto TripAdvisor at some point, leading to questions on whether travel agents can leverage their experiences to share amongst their own communities.

According to McQueen, the next ‘big emerging trend’ includes the use of virtual headsets delivering a 4D sensory experience to transport users from the black sand beaches of Maui to London within minutes.

The virtual reality developed by Occulus goes further with some new devices also including an added sense of realism (spraying mist, wind blowing and scents) for at users ‘at the beach’ while the floor tilts as you look down on London. Marriott reportedly are already experimenting with this technology, according to

So, what does this mean today for travel agents today?

McQueen asked the audience the following questions to reflect on, in order to reinvent and adapt their businesses.

  • “What business are you REALLY in?”
  • “Why do you exist?”
  • “What would be lost if you cease to exist? In your community, for your customers?”

Citing Pet Resorts Australia, an upmarket boarding kennel, McQueen says its business is actually developed as “guilt free holidays” for owners.

The big question remains, what’s your business then?

Michael McQueen is a social researcher and best selling author.

Nancy Hromin is attending the Travelport Conference in Seoul on behalf of Travel Weekly and can be contacted at

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