About this podcast
PhocusWire and Phocusright come together for a regular dissection of the news, issues and trends in travel, tourism, hospitality and technology.
About this podcast
PhocusWire and Phocusright come together for a regular dissection of the news, issues and trends in travel, tourism, hospitality and technology.
- Season 2
33. Big picture uncertainty
A number of folk on the PhocusWire and Phocuswright teams were - this time last year - preparing to head to Berlin for the annual ITB exhibition. As we all now know, ITB was cancelled with days to spare as the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic started becoming increasingly clear and infection rates around Europe soared. ITB director Martin Buck was at the center of those chaotic few days and, one year on, is able to reflect on what it meant for the show and the industry as March 2020 turned the sector on its head. The 2021 version of the event is next week, virtually, so we catch up with him to discuss 2020 and dive deep into some big issues that emerging as a result of the industry trying to get back on its feet. He joins us for the return of InPhocus for its 33rd episode, after a break during January and February of this year. The latest episode of InPhocus is hosted by PhocusWire's Kevin May.
- Season 1
32. Ending the year with the best of 2020
Over the course of 31 episodes of InPhocus during 2020 we've spoken to a wide array of leaders from across the industry. Many of the discussions have focused on the efforts being taken to get through the coronavirus pandemic, while others have dealt with a big news item of a particular week. To mark our 32nd and last episode of the year, we've trawled through the archives and selected three of our favorite interviews on the podcast. This episode of InPhocus is produced in association with Allianz Partners and hosted by PhocusWire's Kevin May. It features our interviews with Jim Davidson (a few days after the collapse of the Sabre-Farelogix acquisition), destination management expert Doug Lanksy and Journera CEO Jeff Katz. InPhocus will return in 2021. In the meantime, enjoy this collection and best wishes for the New Year.
31. Getting the right signals for a recovery
For the 31st episode of InPhocus we finally get to sit down with Geoff Ryskamp. As travel brands examine their options to capture what most hope will be a return to some form of normality in 2021, Ryskamp is a good source of expertise to discuss how the world of guest and customer engagement can play an important role. We discuss everything from voice tech and social media to that stalwart of communications in the shape of email and how brands have figured out what "signals" to listen to. Ryskamp is global head of hospitality, travel and leisure at Medallia. The latest episode of InPhocus is produced in association with Allianz Partners and hosted by PhocusWire's Kevin May.
30. Who'd be a business travel startup in a pandemic?
The short answer is: Tripkicks. The U.S.-based company integrates with corporate online booking tools, so travelers can see real-time insights and alerts about their travel while booking their trip. It was recently named one of PhocusWire's Hot 25 Startups 2021 and was selected to pitch at The Phocuswright Conference 2020 in November. But its story is an interesting one given the state of the business travel - a sector that has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic and one that, arguably, faces an uncertain future. Phocuswright managing director Pete Comeau caught up with the company's CEO Jeff Berk for this week's interview on the InPhocus podcast. The latest episode of InPhocus is produced in association with Allianz Partners and hosted by PhocusWire's Kevin May.
29. A year like no other for travel startups
Phocuswright's State of Startups Report is an annual bellwether of investment trends and acquisitions in the travel, tourism and hospitality sector. The 2020 edition is out now and while there is an inevitable hit on the market activity due to the coronavirus pandemic, some of the details indicate that there has been a perhaps surprising amount of movement in the market. PhocusWire's coverage is here. To talk through the results in detail, PhocusWire spoke to Mike Coletta, Phocuswright's manager for research and innovation who also oversees the State Of Startups report each year. The latest episode of InPhocus is produced in association with Allianz Partners and is hosted by PhocusWire's Kevin May.
28. Travel insurance in a pandemic world
Travel insurance is one of those things that quietly rumbles along in the background of the trip - there to protect people when things go wrong. Well, early-2020 was one of those periods when lots of things went wrong for traveler, be it canceled flights, hospitalizations, refunds, etc. The travel insurance sector has been at the sharp end of that ever since - figuring out new policy strategies and attempting to ensure that when travelers get on the road that they're protected in the COVID-19 world that the industry operates in. For the latest episode of InPhocus we speak to chief marketing officer of Allianz Partners, Joe Mason. In a wide-ranging discussion, he explains how the insurance sector has adapted this year, how travel operators are putting insurance products front and center of a trip and how the core product might evolve in the future. This episode is hosted by PhocusWire's Kevin May.
27. Pack your duffel bag, we're going to America
Duffel, at least for those of us in the press, was a fairly annoying new startup on the scene in 2017. Why? It had raised a lot of money and did everything behind the scenes (stealth mode, as the startup jargon goes), giving very few interviews along the way. When the U.K.-based company finally started talking openly about its product (a platform, with its NDC at its core), skepticism about what it was doing started to dissipate, especially as some commentators were citing the company as one of the ones to watch in an airline sector seemingly desperate to get up to speed with new ways to sell tickets. The relative cloak of anonymity has now gone and, perhaps unusually for any travel brand in 2020, Duffel is in expansion mode. The company is launching in the U.S. (spearheaded by former-Uber employee Tyler Trerotola) and CEO Steven Domin is extremely bullish about its prospects there. In this episode of InPhocus, we speak to both about the stealth era for Duffel, why heading across the Atlantic is the right thing to do and lots more. This episode hosted by PhocusWire's Kevin May.
26. Seizing opportunities in a pandemic travel market
The pandemic has given all sorts of headaches for travel brands, as we know. But it has also inspired some new ideas that were probably never on the agenda for companies at the turn of 2020. One such trend being explored by some is trying to tap into the shift away from corporate workspaces to providing a place to both work and play, as it were. Oasis Collections is testing the idea out with the launch of the Oasis Passport - a program whereby members can "benefit from ultimate flexibility, with the ability to move freely and effortlessly between different properties, cities and countries with a fixed monthly cost." That's the official line from Oasis, of course. But there's a lot more to it than that. We spoke to founder and CEO Parker Stanberry about how the idea came about and why it could be a longer-term trend, rather than something that is exclusive to this mid-pandemic period. The interview was recorded for the latest episode of the InPhocus podcast, hosted by PhocusWire's Kevin May.
25. A muted celebration for a quarter of a century birthday
This year probably feels like it has taken 25 years to pass for many brands in the travel industry. Vrbo is no exception to this, other than 2020 was going to be the year when it marked a quarter of a century in operation. Celebrations might a little muted than perhaps planned, for obvious reasons, but its president Jeff Hurst (who also serves as president an co-lead of marketing at the Expedia Group mothership) is happy to talk about the milestone and where the business finds itself mid-pandemic. Hurst acknowledges that private accommodation is serving as a beneficial driver of recovery in the wider portfolio of brands at Expedia Group. But he also concedes that there is work to do to instil trust in travelers again, not due to the brand itself but the worries that many have over COVID-related world that accommodation now finds itself in. In an interview with PhocusWire this week, Hurst talks about the key moments in the Vrbo story (IPO in 2011, sale to Expedia Group in 2015 and the switch from a subscription-based service to individual bookings shortly after) and the impact that the arrival of Airbnb had on the marketplace. Here's the full interview by PhocusWire's Kevin May with Hurst, recorded for the latest episode of the InPhocus podcast.
24. What a first 12 months for this travel startup
Imagine you're the founder of a travel startup, say around September 2019, with a big idea that sits on the correct side of the sustainability narrative. Things are going fairly smoothly and then, at the turn of the year, you hire your first chief technology officer. But then, almost immediately, China goes into lockdown, quickly followed suit within a few weeks by other countries in Asia, then Europe, etc. This is the story of TripDoodler, a Danish travel startup fronted by a former-CWT director, Josephine Piplits. Nine months on from the outbreak and the company is taking its first tentative steps back to normality - attempting to capture some of the smalls signs of travel recovery for leisure travelers around Europe and, of equal importance, hoping that the awareness around sustainability from last year will continue. In this week's episode of InPhocus, host Kevin May talks to Piplits about the last 12 months as a travel startup founder, her thoughts on sustainability as an important part of the recovery agenda and why the company is going down the crowdfunding route to raise capital.
23. Time spent with Katz is never wasted
Cory Garner left American Airlines a few months ago - ending a 22-year career at the carrier where he was perhaps best known as the champion of the direct connect model in distribution. He's now joined Journera as an advisor, where he'll be working alongside CEO Jeff Katz to push the real-time data exchange platform to a wider audience and, well, light a few more fires around the industry. Katz has plenty to say about his new comrade but, as many will know, the Orbitz founder and former-airline exec (he was also at American Airlines for 16 years) always has a range of views on many other aspects of the industry. He's our latest guest on InPhocus, chatting (almost co-hosting) with Kevin May on this episode.
22. Selling travel in a different way
Nezasa CEO Manuel Hilty, like many CEOs of travel technology providers, had to react quickly on the onset of the coronavirus. The company's personalization engine, used by intermediaries to help build itineraries for travelers in the discovery and booking phase of a trip, was fairly redundant with the imposing of lockdowns in countless countries worldwide. But as domestic travel appeared to have become one of the early indicators of how people will tentatively start to travel again, Nezasa had to work with its customers to re-engineer their approach to selling travel products in a different. In the 22nd episode of InPhocus, we talk to Hilty about these tactics and then move to other areas of the recovery, including the need for state support in helping the industry get back on its feet and the fate of the ski sector (pertinent for one of his home country's (Switzerland) main tourist sectors. PhocusWire's Kevin May presents this week's episode of InPhocus. [--embed id='1'--]
21. Travel inspiration for those stuck on the couch
Imagine that you run a successful and respected online travel guide that focuses on Southeast Asia's myriad of fascinating backwaters and diverse cultures. Over 15 years, travelers have used your site for tips on where to go and unusual things to see and do, including finding accommodation and places to eat that ordinarily the more high-profile guides fail to showcase. But then, coronavirus hits and travelers stop coming to the region - not only is your reason for producing content put on the backburner but the business model is under pressure. This is the story of Travelfish, run by Indonesia-based Stuart McDonald. In this week's episode of InPhocus we find out how McDonald had to quickly rethink his world of travel publishing for a readership that couldn't travel any time soon. He created Couchfish and, six months on, things aren't exactly back to pre-COVID levels but there is an interesting purpose to his endeavor that has since spawned a successful crowd-funding campaign to keep the family-run business alive. Presenting this episode of InPhocus is PhocusWire's Kevin May.
20. Looking to Russia for a different perspective
Russia is never far away from the headlines - whether it's politics, science or culture. The country's travel sector is no less interesting, too - so add a global pandemic into the mix of 2020 and some interesting results emerge. We spoke to Max Kraynov, CEO of AviaSales, this week for the latest episode of InPhocus. In the discussion, he touches on the different approach (both physically and in the psyche of many of its citizens) that the country has taken to tackling the coronavirus. And, of course, how it relates back to travel and the recovery of the tourism sector in Russia. PhocusWire's Kevin May is on solo hosting duties this week for this episode of InPhocus.
19. People want to move again
After months of lockdown, many people are keen to get back on the road as their respective countries ease on travel restrictions. The so-called sentiment reports have been suggesting this for a while but now we have the data to indicate exactly where they are thinking of going. In this episode of InPhocus we examine a new report from Phocuswright and 3Victors that goes into a lot of detail about where travelers are considering going to. It examines search queries by travelers in a number of countries and regions around the globe, giving some early indication as to what destinations are on their minds. Phocuswright's Charuta Fadnis and Kevin May of PhocusWire are back in their respective hosting chairs for this episode of InPhocus.
18. Innovators are primed and ready
Travel brands, as we all know, are trying to figure out how to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in one piece. Or, conversely, are plotting new paths for their customers and partnerships. This reset that everyone is going through gives startups (already born or just ideas) and new technology an opportunity to make their case. Despite the focus on recovery, there is a sense that the industry is listening and waiting to see what emerges. To discuss these areas of opportunity and how brands can take advantage, InPhocus talks to U.K.-based Charlotte Lamp Davies, a well-known consultant and advisor to a number of startups and established brands. Phocuswright's Charuta Fadnis and Mike Coletta are your hosts for this episode of InPhocus.
17. Destinations, it's over to you now
We spoke to destination management expert Doug Lansky in the first few weeks of the pandemic. Himself recovering from the virus at the time, he told us in the third episode of InPhocus about how destinations could use the period of an almost-total industry shutdown to reflect and tackle some of tourism's ingrained problems. This conversation inspired both Lanksy and PhocusWire to create Destination X, a series of articles where he would look at a particular element of the destination landscape and the brands within it and offer solutions to how problems could be solved. With the Destination X series now paused as the industry attempts to get back on its feet (AKA "recovery mode"), we wanted to reflect with Lansky on how the series had been received and his hopes, three months on, for the future. PhocusWire's Kevin May hosts this episode of InPhocus.
16. Tales with some optimism
The stories that are emerging from every corner of travel in recent months show an industry with huge levels of resilience and a determination to see things through. It's perhaps an overly optimistic way to look at things, given that this is a crisis that has no precedence in history and still has a worrying lack of an end in sight. But if there is one outcome that is particularly noteworthy it is desire for brands or individuals to publicly share those stories of teamwork, strategy and optimism with their peers and, of course, their competitors. Klaus Kohlmeyer of hotel tech vendor IDEAS set out to capture many of tales from hoteliers over the last few months. In the latest episode of InPhocus, we speak to him about that collection of interviews for his podcast, Unconstrained Conversations. In the hot seats as your hosts this week are PhocusWire's Mitra Sorrells and Kevin May.
15. Racial diversity should be the challenge we accept and win
The travel, tourism and hospitality industry should know by now that it has a lot of work to do around diversity. Some advances have been made in recent years on gender equality (but it's nowhere near enough), as our coverage has shown, but recent protests in the U.S. and those that followed in other countries have once again shone a light on how race and the Black community in particular still needs to be part of the same conversation. The reemergence of the issue is obviously welcome and but extremely awkward - travel brands (and the media that cover it) should feel very uneasy about the poor job made so far, over many years, to push the agenda and affect real change in this area. There is another opportunity now to do so, but in a way that is long-lasting rather than piecemeal in nature and temporary in terms of focus. For the latest episode of InPhocus, we spoke to Jamie-Lee Abtar, executive director of U.K.-based BAME Women In Travel, to learn more about the organization and what new steps brands should be considering. Co-hosting this week's episode are PhocusWire's Jill Menze and Kevin May.
14. So, we're going to launch this during a pandemic
Airline e-commerce projects are reasonably straightforward: a deal is signed; a carrier and its software partner spend months scoping out the product; it's built, integrated and testing takes place; and then it goes live. This is a fairly simplified version, of course, but hundreds of such projects take place each year. But as we know, 2020 has not been a typical year for any part of the industry. OpenJaw Technologies had been working with Japan-based carrier ANA since early-2019 to get a retailing platform integrated into the airline's system. As our guest on InPhocus this week says, coronavirus hit "at the business end of things", meaning teams were scattered in various locations, more often than not in their homes, with deadlines to hit and a launch day approaching. Bryan Porter, OpenJaw's chief commercial officer, tells us about how a project can come together in the midst of the most trying of circumstances. This isn't a test of the product (although that had to take place, as part of the final process), but a test of how teams have to adapt to a new business and social environment. Flying solo on hosting duties this week is PhocusWire's Kevin May.