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Dynamic speakers engage with full house of participants at successful 3rd PATAcademy-HCD 

Twenty-nine “rising star” travel professionals from 13 destinations gathered for the 3rd PATAcademy-HCD on December 2-4, 2014 at the PATA Engagement Hub in Bangkok. Under the theme “The Future of Tourism Technology”, participants learned about the vital role of technology and how it is an essential driving factor behind innovations that are affecting how we do business.

Twenty-nine “rising stars” nominated by their organisations, with on average five years’ work experience, hailed from China, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

PATA CEO Mario Hardy said, “In today’s environment, the status quo is constantly being challenged and disrupted; therefore businesses need to evolve to remain competitive. The 3rd PATAcademy-HCD, which had the most amount of participants ever, was the perfect opportunity for participants to learn how to leverage technology to their advantage and stay ahead of the curve.”

During the three-day programme, participants heard from a dynamic range of speakers including Ms Jeanette See, Director Marketing - Asia Pacific, SITA, Singapore; Mr Mario Hardy, CEO, PATA; Mr Stuart 'Stu' Lloyd, Chief Hothead & Business Creativity Consultant, Hotheads, China; Mr Justin Malcolm, General Manager, Aloft Hotel, Thailand; Mr Ciaran Delaney, Founder, Meetingsbooker.com, Ireland; Ms Bronwyn White, Director, MyTravelResearch.com, Australia; and Mr Venkat Chandramoleshwar, Head of Product Marketing, APAC Travel, Google, Singapore.

Ms See explored the notion of “Is travel better with technology?” and presented findings of SITA’s Passenger IT Trends Survey 2014. She highlighted that one of the findings of the survey found that website technology has had the biggest impact to date for the travel and tourism industry, however SITA’s findings also showed that the industry needs to improve fares search, real time info and in-flight services.

Mr Hardy, who is also the founder of MAP2Ventures, a Disruptive Technology Investment Fund, spoke about disruptive technologies that are shaping the world, such as Netflix, Uber and AirBnB, and the need for the industry to adapt to these changes.

On the second day, participants took part in a fun, interactive and engaging workshop with Mr Lloyd, who challenged them to find opportunities to apply creativity and innovation to the hotel/tourism industry. He stressed that creativity was the most required leadership skill in business today and through different games and challenges, participants had to learn to think “outside of the box”.

Mr Malcolm noted in his presentation that hotel companies are taking a bolder approach in applying new technologies to enhance the guest experience, adding that the brand has recently introduced robot butlers at its Cupertino property in Silicon Valley in August this year, and parent company Starwood Hotels and Resorts has begun introducing keyless entry to its W Hotels and Aloft hotels in the region.

Mr Delaney, who joined by video conference, explained how his company was providing a new revenue stream for hotels and other businesses by allowing them to rent out their meeting rooms directly to customers.   

The last day of the programme, began with Ms White’s presentation on semantic search, the power of social media and social signals, and the future of mobile marketing. She provided the participants with practical examples of content marketing and how they could be used in today’s ever changing landscape.

Mr Chandramoleshwar ended the last day of the programme with insights into what ways technology is likely to affect the various stages of travel, noting that currently 56% of travellers are influenced by their social circles when they are panning for a trip.

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