At ITB Berlin 2016, Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com told of her target to foster sustainable tourism. We asked her what the business was able to achieve in this area in 2017.
We’ve been quite busy over the course of the past year in terms of our support and investment to foster innovation in the sustainable tourism space. We launched our Booking.com Booster Programme in 2017, where we invited 10 sustainable tourism start-ups to Amsterdam for three weeks of expert coaching and hands-on workshops, culminating in scaling grants of €2 million being awarded. Because we also believe that meaningful change can only come about through collaboration on multiple fronts throughout the entire sustainable tourism ecosystem, towards the end of last year we also announced two new initiatives.
The first was Booster Labs, which kicked off in Barcelona in December. These compact weekend programmes are designed to give early-stage start-ups in sustainable tourism the tools, insights and skills they need to grow and increase their impact. We’ve also established the Booking Cares Fund to champion individual non-profit changemakers in sustainable tourism to support their search for new and unexpected solutions to strengthen local communities, preserve and promote culture, protect natural resources and to spread tourism activities more evenly.
What are the biggest trends that you see at this time, and in the future?
Technology continues to be the single most important driver behind the biggest trends and opportunities in travel at the moment. We walk around with super computers within reach at all times. With a few swipes of our fingers, we can seamlessly go from being inspired by a stunning 360-degree photo on Facebook of island temples in Indonesia to booking every aspect of the trip – all in just a few minutes on our smartphone.
Technology is making it easier and easier for us to discover and connect with new travel experiences, whether they are just around the corner or on the other side of the earth. By leveraging thoughtful applications of AI and machine learning, we are finding new and surprising ways to make our exploration of the world even more customised, meaningful and personally rewarding. Digital assistants are just the beginning of the data-driven travel revolution that’s already underway.
What effect will the widespread introduct ion of blockchain technology impact on the industry?
There is a lot of talk about the potential of blockchain technology at the moment and the many different applications it might have for the wider travel industry. It’s still very early days, but there are definitely some interesting ideas and business models beginning to be debated and developed further. As with all emerging technologies, it’s something we’re monitoring at Booking.com and evaluating what will bring the most tangible value for our customers and partners.
What are biggest challenges in the market?
The continuous rise of smartphone penetration in various fastgrowing markets around the world is creating opportunities to reach massive new audiences of consumers who are eager to travel and explore the world. Being able to book a trip from beginning to end, quickly and easily, with a localised, relevant offering is key and something that companies who want to facilitate a truly seamless, global experience for their customers are going to have to tackle in order to remain competitive. Again, it’s all about technology here – and remaining flexible and agile.
As emerging technologies continue to evolve and shift at pace so do consumer demands and expectations. You have to keep up with the disruptions and find new and innovative ways to create value for your customers and business partners.
ITB BERLIN IS AN INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND SHARE WITH OTHER LEADERS FROM ACROSS THE INDUSTRY.
How important is the ITB Berlin Convention when it comes to educating and informing the industry?
ITB Berlin is an incredible opportunity to learn and share with other leaders from across the industry. The exchange of ideas and insights into the trends that are shaping our industry are not only practical, but inspiring as well
Photo: Gillian Tans CEO, Booking.com
ITB CEO INTERVIEW: GILLIAN TANS, CEO BOOKING.COM, ONE-ON-ONE WITH PHILIP C. WOLF
Category: Future, Marketing
Date: March 7, 2018
Time: 4pm – 4.45pm
Location: Convention Hall 7.1b, Auditorium London