Experts from payments, foreign exchange and cybersecurity ensured that this year’s Travel Forward ended with deep dives into some of the industry’s most challenging use cases.
The final morning of a successful return to physical events kicked off with Xavi Ginesta, chairman and founder of Barcelona-based fintech specialists Voxel Group telling attendees that there is even more innovation to come in the B2B payments sector.
His session introduced the idea of a “payments manager” which can automatically orchestrate the fragmented end-to-end B2B payment flows of the travel industry, similar to a channel manager.
The development of Open Payment Alliance standards, defined by HEDNA and HTNG, will support further improvements across the core requirements of a payments platform such as omnichannel payments, bill-back, electronic settlements and reporting.
“But we absolutely believe that we are going beyond use cases and identifying opportunities for innovation,” he said.
Foreign exchange is another area where specialist solutions are available for travel companies. Kantox has a system which automates currency management. Its global director for travel, Marc Padrosa, pointed out that many firms still have “a fear of forex” but suggested that teams other than finance should take an interest in how forex impacts their role.
He outlined a typical scenario where a finance director insists on adding a mark-up to cover any forex fluctuations on B2C and B2B offers, but the mark-up often inflates the price beyond what competitors are offering and results in a lost sale or poor conversion rates.
Technology, he said, can remove the need for these mark-ups because it can apply dynamic hedging techniques which guarantee that the currency exchange is made when the rates are optimal.
“If you have the right approach to forex, it can unlock many competitive advantages in a super-competitive industry,” he said.
Elsewhere, two experts approached cybersecurity from different perspectives. Dr Peter Tarlow, founder and president, Tourism & More, noted that travellers “tend to put common sense on hold” when travelling, which means they are more at risk of phishing emails, for example.
For businesses, booking.com’s head of cyber-detection and response Ariel Lemelson said, “chains are only a strong as their weakest link” and that travel firms need to keep an eye on how secure partners and suppliers are.
He talked about developing a “cyber-secure culture” within organisations. “Awareness training needs to be part of working life,” he said. “It is better to be suspicious, to over-report possible threats than to say nothing.”
Simon Press, Exhibition Director, Travel Forward, said: “The topics we lined up for the final day are not only business-critical for most travel companies but also great case studies for tech-driven innovation.
“Travel Forward’s laser focus on B2B tech allows us to drill down into some of the most complicated behind-the-scenes parts of the business and share the insights with an engaged audience.”