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business breakfast Continued from page 72


Headline sponsor


Secondary sponsor


Host “We are super-proud of our


product and of what we do, but if it wasn’t for having the best crew on board our aircraſt we wouldn’t be the brand we are. “Everything else I think of as


the stage that’s there to bring to life the service that our people provide.” Although emerging


technologies, backed by artificial intelligence (AI), are tipped to replace humans in many existing roles – including travel consultants – IBM sees its role as empowering human resources. Ian Leonard, UK travel and


transport lead at IBM, said: “When we talk about AI we don’t talk about artificial intelligence, we talk about augmented intelligence. “What we are talking about is


adding the technology to enhance what humans are doing; making it beter, faster, and geting the information to them at the point they need it. “From a company perspective,


we are not the world’s largest and longest-standing technology company just because of our technology, we also have our human element. “Our technology is wonderful


but, without what we call signature moments, and if we can’t get people to understand our technology and use it, it’s just technology.” He added: “Experts, that’s


what this is about – informing the experts. In travel that’s what we have. We have the experts, but the technology has got to be used to help them keep up. “So, they are actually going


to be using artificial intelligence to help them do their jobs beter


rather than do their jobs for them.” › Pictures, page 68


‘Be open to ideas from all staff at your company’


Travel firms should be open- minded about where they derive inspiration from for innovating in customer service and include everyone in their organisation as well as outside influences. Panellists said ideas can come


from unexpected places within firms and that customer expectations are increasingly being framed by organisations and individuals outside of travel. Tui chief marketing officer Katie


Daniel Kerzner, Virgin Atlantic


McAlister said: “We need to be an amazing technology company that provides the digital experience that customers expect, the benchmark for which, quite honestly, is set outside of travel. “Expectations are being set by


businesses such as Amazon, and ultimately, customers will vote with their feet and do what they want.” Daniel Kerzner, vice-president for


customer service at Virgin Atlantic, said the airline takes a collaborative


approach with staff and also keeps up to date with wider cultural, commercial and customer trends. “Expectations are really high


when you are travelling on Virgin,” he said. “We do not look at the rest of the airline industry and what they’re doing, we look at external trends coming into the business. “Disappointment is expectation


minus reality. If you’ve got really high expectations you’ve got to trump that with reality.” Kerzner said a customer


experience team at Virgin works across the business to ensure there is buy-in and “diversity of thought”. “Te people who are going to


ignite that spark of an idea is not necessarily the person you expect or the person who has the business card that says that’s their job,” he said. “If we go back to the same people


that have created the problem by the nature of the roles they are in, we are not going to jump the curve.” Ocean Holidays co-chief


executive Daniel Ox said: “We have a forum in which people are made to feel comfortable to come forward and raise a concept or idea. It’s part of our culture.”


Virgin discovers latest trends on ‘innovation safaris’


Virgin Atlantic bosses go on “innovation safaris” to check out the trends in cities around the world. Safaris have taken place in New York, London and Dubai


70 30 MAY 2019


and another is planned for Hong Kong, said Virgin Atlantic’s Daniel Kerzner. “We go to the centre of these


cities and look at what’s happening in hospitality, retail or residential. What is it people are waiting in line in Soho in London to buy and what’s causing them to do that? “We’re looking at what’s driving


people to share their experiences on social media and how do we create


that experience on an aircraſt.” Kerzner said the airline is also


paying much more atention to what online influencers say about it. “Who is talking about travel?


It’s influencers, bloggers and third parties who are talking about our business in a lot more detail than we oſten talk about our own business,” he said. “Tat’s something we have to take into more consideration and give a lot more credibility to it.”


travelweekly.co.uk


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