by Chris Clarke, event blogger
The Horizons 2008 global forum for airlines in Bangkok is over. Everyone is making their way back home, whether home is Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East or Africa.
It is a good time to reflect on the last couple of days.
I hope you all enjoyed the conference. With over 600 delegates and over 140 airlines represented, the gathering was the biggest so far. It really has become an industry event not just an Amadeus event.
For me, the conference highlighted a major shift in the sector. It has highlighted how far the industry has come in the last seven years. How airlines have not only come to terms with a rapidly changing market but have embraced it.
We heard a lot about the future. We heard about how airlines must relate more effectively to their customers if they are to build loyalty, increase yields and secure future growth.
Focusing on the future is critical for any business.
But we also heard about the need for airlines to get things right now. The basics must not be forgotten. We heard how airline websites must get better at servicing and not just sales; we heard about next generation customer management systems and how they can improve efficiencies as well as improve the customer experience; we heard about how LCCs (and full-service carriers) are adapting their models to remain competitive in today’s world.
And this focus on reality is important too. When I was working at one of Europe’s leading brands, we used to refer to having our head in the clouds but our feet on the ground. And this is as true for airlines as it is for any other business.
The focus of the event, and from all speakers, wasn’t on the technology for the sake of talking about technology. It was about what can be achieved with the right technology. Superior technology is not, and can never be, an end in itself. Its value only lies in what can be done with it.
What was evident throughout the event, was the increased confidence of those that work across the sector. Instead of focusing on survival it was on growth and potential. That isn’t to say that the sky is free from clouds. Just that there is the confidence, the know-how and the ability to deal with those clouds.
What is exciting about this sector, and what Horizons demonstrates every two years, is the pace of change. With that in mind we look forward to the next Horizons.
Will further consolidation have taken place? Will customers be buying tickets using their iPod? What new and innovative segments will airlines be catering to above and beyond traditional business-leisure? Will the LCC model have evolved even further? I could go on.
I hope that you enjoyed the last two days as much as I did.
At the beginning of next week, we will also be uploading a number of videos interviews conducted during the conference. Hopefully, you, or your colleagues that were unable to make it to Bangkok, will find some time to revisit the blog and view the interviews.
My ambition is that the valuable conversations started in Bangkok don’t stop when you step off the plane.