Advantage Conference tackles technology

With a theme of Man & Machine, the Advantage Travel Partnership’s annual conference – held this year at the Club Med Opio in the south of France – was dominated by talk of technology and innovation but drove home a message that even the best technology is no use without the human element.

“We’ll see 1,000 years’ worth of technology and innovation in the next ten years,” said keynote speaker Jason Bradbury (pictured). “If you think you’ve seen change since the first iPhone then you’ve seen nothing yet.”

Virtual reality, wearables, robotics, artificial intelligence, personal production (3D printing, for example) and holograms are all on the brink of mainstream adoption, he said, but reminded delegates that “the human is the most important element in the machine”.

Another keynote speaker, Alistair Pritchard, Lead Partner for Travel at Deloitte, took delegates on a tour of the challenges currently facing the industry – including regulatory reform, political instability, currency volatility, terrorism, cyber attacks and, of course, Brexit – but also looked at innovation in the industry.

Airports are increasingly deploying beacon technology to smooth and enhance the airport experience, he said, while 20% of airlines are currently trialling some form of wearable technology. Driverless cars are “coming in the next five, ten, 15 years,” he said but what about pilotless planes? “Never. I cannot see it in my lifetime.”

Regarding the laptop ban on flights from some Middle East countries to the UK and US, he said: “It’s not just about not being able to work on the flight but also about not being able to work at the airport.”

He continued, “What’s more, some businesses have policies that say you can’t put your laptop in the hold, so you don’t have it for the whole trip – that’s a big problem.”