Unaudited figures for the inaugural Travel Forward, co-located with WTM London, reveal that it has already become the UK’s most visited travel tech show.
In its first year, Travel Forward welcomed 7,000 visitors to its conference and exhibition, outperforming the UK’s former market leader – Travel Technology Europe – which talks in terms of attracting 6,000 visitors.
Travel Forward also hosted 135 exhibitors from around the world covering the entire ecosystems of travel technology. Travelport, Sabre and Amadeus – the travel tech industry’s most established global businesses – all took part.
Highlights of the event included a well-attended conference across two days, which opened with a keynote speech from Mike Croucher, Travelport’s chief architect.
Croucher set the tone for the three days with his topline view that today’s travellers need to be served by “systems of intelligence and systems of engagement” and that the legacy mindset around “systems of record” needs to be retired.
Other keynoters included Greg Webb, senior vice president and general manager for Oracle Hospitality, and Tim Hentschel, CEO for Hotelplanner.
Panellists and speakers across the main sessions and streams included representatives from travel luminaries such as Expedia’s Media Solutions and Partner Solutions units, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, booking.com, Trainline, Klook, AccorHotels, Air France and Hotelbeds Group.
Enterprise tech giants such as Google Cloud, Facebook for Work and Tata Consultancy Services also shared their insights.
Around 20 businesses – from payment providers to blockchain specialists via hotel booking engines and marketing tech – took part in the Product Showcase Theatre.
Another highlight was the Startup Showcase Zone, sponsored by Amadeus, a dedicated area on the exhibition floor for startups to share their ideas with visitors. Amadeus also sponsored the first ever Travel Forward Startup Pitch Competition. The winner, Canadian multi-city flight search technology specialists TripNinja, will be mentored by Amadeus over the next six months.
The success of the inaugural Travel Forward contributed to a blockbuster year for WTM London. Unaudited figures show that, across both events, visitor numbers rose by 6% to 32,700. The increase in C-suite and senior professionals were even more impressive. Using exhibitor invitee visitors as the benchmark, 39% more top execs attended on the opening day than last year.
Richard Gayle, Event Manager, Travel Forward, said: “We are blown away by these initial findings, and they reinforce the anecdotal evidence from exhibitors who told us they were delighted with not only the quantity but also the quality of visitors to their stands.”
“The conference programme, the startup competition and the product showcase theatre all resonated with our target audience.
“The challenge now is to improve on what has already become the most visited travel tech show in the UK. The team and I are already working on Travel Forward 2019 and are confident that this year’s event will confirm our market leadership.”
Travel Forward 2019 will take place at ExCeL London on Monday 4 to Wednesday 6 November.