Main conclusions and learnings from think future 2018: from physical to digital, innovation is not a choice anymore, and customer expectations will keep increasing

On 8th and 9th February 2018 CEOs, top managers, innovators and thought leaders from airlines, airports, other travel, tech companies, retailers and universities came together to think future and to discuss solutions to succeed and how to transform in the current fast changing environment. We have summarized some key thoughts from the discussions below, but you can follow our live stream here. And download the presentations here. 

Guests from 35 countries including Spain, UK, Germany, Scandinavia, Russia, Ukraine, the US, Canada  and Bangladesh joined this think tank to discuss about latest trends, tech you need to know and innovative ideas how to turn digital technology into opportunities in this everything, everywhere, now world. 

Is the industry focusing on the right things to succeed in the future?  What will be the game changers to revolutionise customers expectations and create loyalty? What difference can data and analytics make and how to make them happen, 

We discussed latest tech trends such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Start up presentations and demos included the blockchain start up Winding Tree, iPowerMe based on AI, Passme targeting to improve the airport experience and more. 

How can the travel industry manage to transform to keep up in this completely new environment? 

What can - and do - travellers and staff expect, and how can we keep up with the ever increasing expectations. 

Or even more, will the aviation industry still exist in 20 years' time?

These and more are questions which we asked at this year's  think future - Hamburg Aviation Conference , where airlines, airports, rail, other travel stakeholders, tech companies, retailers and universities will meet to discuss solutions to succeed & how to transform in the current fast changing environment. 

The world of the hyper connected consumer is moving from phyiscial to digital assets. Examples such as Uber, Amazon, Google, Apple, Expedia, WhatsApp and more illustrate that the enterprise value of the future is about how well an organisation develops their digital assets for the benefits of customers and employees as Bratati Ghosh, CMO at IBS Software pointed out clearly in her keynote speech. 

Michael Eggenschwiler, CEO at Hamburg Airport, explained ongoing projects of common self service check in and PASSME to improve the customer experience at the airport. 

Ursula Silling, CEO at the boutique consultancy XXL Solutions and GM at 'think future - Hamburg Aviation Conference': 

"Innovation and digital are not a choice anymore but key for survival, and senior managers and decision makers of even the most traditional airports, airlines, rail companies and other travel parties have realised this. But they struggle to make change happen. This is where our  Hamburg Aviation Conference comes in.”

The event is a global think tank and a kind of innovation hub, helping top managers, board members and decision makers to understand all about latest trends and tech you need to know and get some fresh thinking from case studies and by meeting a diverse range of delegates and companies to inform their strategic priorities.

Artificial intelligence- augmented intelligence will help humans to deliver a better service. 

"Be a disruptor instead of being disrupted” says Thierry Gnych from IBM. He explains several travel use cases for cognitive adaptations and augmented reality. 

Jonathan Newman talks your personal concierge - chatbots, a year after the hype started. He explains the opportunities that chatbots create for airlines and airports to differentiate themselves and offer excellent service, as well as create additional revenue opportunities. He also explains their innovative approach with LATAM to create new revenue opportunities through an innovative upsell approach. 

Discussions about future airline and airport models revealed clearly that digital was key, but also differentiation instead of just following the same model. Views on the feasibility of long haul low cost differed. Patrick Murphy, previous Chairman of the Board at Ryanair and Chief Advisor with Peach Airlines (subsidiary of ANA, Japan) stresses the importance of consistent cost focus and how difficult it will be to achieve huge cost advantages for the longhaul model. 

And business models do not focus on the “old world” standards but can be surprising. Daniel Burkard, Deputy General Manager at Moscow Domodedovo describes how they turned the airport into a shopping mall, thus attracting additional visitors and revenues. 

Innovative ideas such as “ aircraft on demand” raised by Bauhaus Luftfahrt fit the move from physical to digital assets. But airlines and airports still seem to struggle to make this fully happen. 

Digitisation can open doors to do things previously thought impossible, creating seamless customer and staff experiences and creating endless new revenue or cost saving opportunities at the same time. 

Talea Buchwald from Deutsche Bahn describes how their customers’ experience could be improved by turning the DB navigator into a travel concierge, allowing clients’ time to be spent effectively and according to their priorities instead of wasting it with travel planning. 

A lot of practical advice was given in terms of how to transform: Alexander Laukenmann, MD at Hamburg Airport, Farkonda Haschemzada, project co-lead for data hub at Fraport Airport and Antonio Rigon, CTO at Planitas agree on five points to inform your transformation strategy. 

Kay Hellwig from Deutsche Bahn talks about key principles and values for digital transformation at Deutsche Bahn: 

  • Customer enthusiasm before profit optimization,

  • Iteration before perfection,

  • Participation before hierarchy/silos

  • Trust and personal responsibility before top down

  • Demonstrating and participating rather than just carrying on

Get the basics right first, introduce collaborative tools such as for example Workplace by Facebook to support a culture change, explain Christian Kamhaug, The one advise for organisations to follow? Start with your employees first, customers will follow.

Digital engagement changes the way customers take decisions, ie shift from impulse buying at airport to decision ahead of the trip explains Andrew Tall from the Collinson Group. 

Speakers included entrepreneur & TedX speaker Mozhgan Tavakolifard, Ph.D / start up iPowerMe, Thierry Gnych / IBM Cognitive Solutions, Jonathan Newman / caravelo, Bratati Ghosh / IBS Software Services, founder William Owen / made by many, Al Tredinnick / 15below, David Turton / Branchspace, Marko Javornik / Comtrade, Manuel Heidler / AOE, Andrew Tall Collinson Group, Dave Montali / Winding Tree, Antonio Rigon / Planitas, Alun Rhydderch / Soif Horizons, Alex Avery / Pragma, Kasper Hounsgaard, other innovators, #airlines, #airports, Michael Eggenschwiler, Michael Kerkloh, #railway, #travel, #universities, #retail.  

Food for thought and excellent contacts were guaranteed! Small but powerful! A true think tank. Check out what else others say

The event is over, but we continue the discussion in our think future group on linkedin and our other social media channels, #thinkfuture18. And you can check further, recommend presentations or discussions to your colleagues by referring to our live stream and interviews on our youtube channel:

Presentations are published on our website in the download section: