Industry panellists point to human interaction as continued driver for travel and events

Humans stand at the centre of the future of travel

Humanisation lies at the core of events as well as the larger travel ecosystem, which will help tide the sector through this tough period, discussed panellists at The Path Forward for Travel and Events, a hybrid event organised by Marriott International last week.

Anna Patterson, vice president and managing director of Singapore-based event agency George P Johnson, stated: “The biggest and most important things we have come to realise is that technology, and holograms, VR, XR, all of these are just enablers (to delivering events). The most important is the human brain, human emotions, and the human experience which is being engaged and entertained.”

Humans, and our need for social interaction, stand at the centre of the future of travel

Patterson revealed how she helped to transform a three-hour keynote presentation that comprised many presenters and content, into a 30-minute cinematic documentary where every stakeholder and speaker became part of a story of how that company had transformed.

“I think it’s about the connection and human behaviour, and if anything, the pandemic (has helped us realise) that human interaction serves a purpose,” she said.

Meanwhile in the corporate travel space, Kenji Soh, executive director APAC (ex. India) travel, Goldman Sachs, and Andy Winchester, APAC travel manager, Bloomberg both revealed that corporate trips are still happening despite the current complex environment – also because a human element is key.

Soh elaborated: “Face-to-face interactions are very important to us. While travel volume is comparatively lower, each trip is very important to us because it makes our firm competitive.”

But in the current climate, Soh pointed out that Goldman Sachs tries to take away the complexity of travel planning for their employees by assuring them that the company has a strong and reliable team that will support them and provide timely, relevant information when needed.

“We’ve resumed travel in China and domestic Australia. When we spoke to the travellers and department heads, there was no hesitation about getting back to travel. We learnt that people want to be out there seeing their customers, and we’ve added a lot of value to the business by enabling people to travel safely,” shared Winchester.

He added that Bloomberg has also focused on how to disseminate information to travellers in a timely way, but points out that in the future, “we need to automate that as much as possible particularly as volumes grow”.

Sustainability is also another rising concern in the corporate travel space, both travel managers indicate.

“First, the trip has to be evaluated. Perhaps many meetings can be conducted in one trip, rather than having to do multiple trips and cut down on emissions that way. But we also give our travellers the choice to choose, as they would know what the most sustainable choice is,” Winchester said. On the company’s part, Bloomberg is working with partners to make that happen.

Similarly for Goldman Sachs, Soh revealed that the company is moving beyond carbon offsets, and putting the choice in the hands of the travellers to better understand what will be the byproduct of their trip.

They are also working to showcase green hotels better in their online booking tool, and they have been working with major hotel chains such as Marriott to ensure that the information is reflected accurately in the system.

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