06 September 2015, I had the pleasure of attending the first Pacific Asia Travel Association Technology Forum, at Bangalore International Exhibition Center, in partnership with phocuswright.com and connectingtravel.com. PATA is the travel and tourism industry association for the Asia Pacific region, now headed by artificial intelligence investor Mario Hardy. Phocuswright is the global nexus for technology in travel and tourism. Connecting Travel is a new professional social network initiative for the travel and tourism industry by Travel Weekly. (Both Phocuswright and Travel Weekly are now owned by Northstar Travel Media.)
The opening speaker was the prominent investor and philanthropist Mohandas Pai, in his role as chairman of the Karnataka Tourism Vision Group. Pai, who is heavily invested in tripfactory.com, provided a 360 degree overview of the skyrocketing digital economy in India, as well as its impacts on travel and tourism, both domestically and internationally. One of the most interesting things he mentioned was the Aadhaar, or Unique Identification Authority of India, basically the world's largest national identification number project, set to biometrically empower millions of people without conventional paper trail or fixed abode.
Tony D'Astolfo, managing director of Phocuswright, introduced this new "Phocuswright Fast Track", by calling it an event within an event. Phocuswright offers recent research on the Indian travel market, and not only maintains a dedicated team in India, but also is planning a full Phocuswright India travel technology conference 21-22 April 2016 near New Delhi, in Gurgaon.
Chetan Kapoor, Phocuswright research analyst for Asia Pacific, put the spotlight on Indian holidays and package travelers, highlighting the evolution of the Indian traveler, and how their shopping and booking habits are transforming traditional holidays and packages.
In the first executive roundtable, titled "Beyond Air - The Next Phase of India's Online Travel Story", Chetan Kapoor presented three of India's new travel and tourism heavyweights:
- Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, India, tripadvisor.in
- Hari Nair, Founder and CEO, holidayiq.com
- Subramanya Sharma, Chief Marketing Officer, cleartrip.com
In the second executive roundtable, titled "Travel Innovation Summit Alumni Spotlight", Tony D'Astolfo introduced three of India's most innovative entrepreneurs to discuss how they are transforming the travel industry, at home and abroad:
- Anshuman Bapna, Founder and CEO, mygola.com
- Pawan Marwaha, Chief Grabber, tablegrabber.com
- Saket Newaskar, Founder and CTO, triphobo.com
- Helena Egan - Director of Industry Relations, tripadvisor.com
- Kenny Picken - CEO, traveltek.net
- Phil Napleton - Senior VP of Products, opendestinations.com
- Rika Jean-Francois - Partnerships, itb-berlin.de
- Mike Kistner - Chief Executive Officer, reznext.com
- Daniela Wagner - International Partnerships, connectingtravel.com