Travel Zero.O: Back To The Future
To go forwards, we have to go backwards. This is a day where we look back at what happened, what we did, where we are now and where we are headed. The experience begins here.
“If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious shit.” – Doc, “Back To The Future”
In an internal memo to his team at the beginning of July, Tao Tao wrote, “For many of us, 2020 will feel like a lost year in relationships and career progression. When we went into this crisis as a team, there was a high sense of urgency and adrenaline to keep us going. The crisis gave us clarity. Now we’re on the messy road to recovery.” In this opening session, we look through the eyes of a young leader on what he learnt, the controversial decisions they took during the crisis, and how they’re thinking about the future.
When the proverbial s… hits the fan, it takes nerves of steel as well as ability to raise funds to steady the ship and then, seek out the opportunities to forge a new path forward. In this session, startups share how they have raised funds, among other measures, to stay afloat, and what they see in their future. And for good measure, we throw an investor’s voice into the mix, as to why he would remain interested in travel at this time.
Covid-19 set in motion a pivot from inbound to domestic. But make no mistake. This Kingdom, which is for the first time ever marketing itself as a travel destination, will influence the shaping of the global travel market in the years ahead, with its infrastructure plans and ambitions. If anything else, this time has given it a golden opportunity to test and prepare for the future.
It was one of the early success stories, and its domestic travel was among the first to get back on its feet. Then it had a slight stumble. But make no mistake, this is a market of resilient and resourceful entrepreneurs, as well as young, aspiring travellers. Its population of 98 million makes it one of Asia’s most promising travel markets with high mobile and Internet penetration (expected to rise to 48% in 2023 from 35% in 2017: Statista), and a voracious appetite for social. Let’s get insights into the market
Thien Minh Group (TMG)
One of Asia’s earliest pioneers in destination experiences goes backwards in time to unpick what happened during the crisis, the weaknesses it exposed and what we have to do to fix it going forwards.
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This is a story of contrasts. One had one of South-east Asia’s most prolonged and severe lockdowns, and in the other, life is back to normal and the worry is actually over-domestic tourism. From the Philippines, we get insights into how Covid changed consumer behaviour and e-commerce spending, and how it will impact travel, and from Taiwan, we will learn how they are managing over-crowding and transforming domestic tourism.
It raised Series C US$70m funding in August 2019 and CEO and founder Amit Saberwal said for the first time, reaching unicorn status was no longer an outlandish claim. He attributed its success to focus and fearlessness, its mascot being Reddy, the badger. Let’s find out how focus and fearlessness held the ship steady during Covid and how it will see this branded budget accommodation startup through.
Every penny counts when marketing funds are limited and yet we have to drive results. This presentation will showcase the results generated through digital media, how it can be done, including micro targeting, as well as the rise of direct bookings during Covid and how to still win.
D-EDGE Hospitality Solutions
In this session, we learn how Hilton navigated Covid in China, how it rethought its marketing given the constraints and circumstances, lessons learnt, what changes in customer behaviour did Covid accelerate, which are the breakout channels, and how Hilton intends to rewrite the future. Yes, we have a lot of questions to ask. Stay tuned.
Masashi Takahashi said goodbye to travel and the tours and activities startup he founded in 2011 on June 30. Voyagin (original name: FindJPN) was absorbed into Rakuten. As he says it, “Voyagin was my adolescence.” This is the story of growing up with all its associated pangs and pains, and joy, and the future that awaits.
In the run-up to “Rewrite” day on October 1, we put the spotlight on the women who are rewriting travel their own way. Anchalika Kijkanakorn left her 10-year career with GE Capital to set up her hotel group in 2003, with her first property, Aleenta Hua Hin-Pranburi. Her philosophy is about “sustainable luxury” and she achieved her plastic-free goal in June last year. In this one-on-one, we find out how she intends to stay the course she’s set into the future.
Akaryn Hotel Group, Thailand
No one has been spared in this crisis, big or small. Some may argue though that the scale that once favoured the global giants could be a handicap in a crisis such as this. You’ve got so much more to lose. Find out how this global OTA weathered the storm in Asia Pacific, what it did to get stronger and fitter, and how it sees the future of online travel in the region in this closing conversation of the day.
In this opening conversation of the day, we find out how leading investors from different regions are thinking differently about their portfolio. In this scorched earth, what gems have emerged and what new ones are they betting on?
Queen’s Road Capital
HV Holtzbrinck Ventures
Google Greater China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand
How do we market places to go when we can’t go anywhere? And when for most countries in the world, it’s about domestic versus cross-border travel. This presentation sheds light on how destination marketing took a detour on the road to inspiration and the breakout moments in customer engagement.
Expedia Group Media Solutions
The first round of our annual competition to pick out the entrepreneurs who want to reboot travel. Three will be picked to pitch at the Grand Finals on Oct 1. The winner will have the opportunity to present at the Innovation Summit at The Phocuswright Conference in Phoenix, November 16-19, 2020. You get to vote for The People’s Choice, which will also be announced on Oct 1.
In partnership with
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Our partners in Seoul ran their own competition to pick three worthy finalists who will compete today for the prize of WiT Seoul 2020 Startup of the Year in this final round.
We catch up with the winners of the two previous years, 2018 and 2019, to find out how they survived the storm, how they rebooted and where they see themselves headed.
Senior VP, General Manager, Attendee Experience, Groups360
The second round of our annual competition to pick out the entrepreneurs who want to reboot travel. Three will be picked to pitch at the Grand Finals on Oct 1. The winner will have the opportunity to present at the Innovation Summit at The Phocuswright Conference in Phoenix, November 16-19, 2020. You get to vote for The People’s Choice, which will also be announced on Oct 1.
In partnership with
Continuing our run-up to “Rewrite” day on October 1 where we put the spotlight on the women who are rewriting travel their own way.
These past months, all of us have had to dig deep to search for strength to get us through this period, to reboot ourselves for the long climb ahead. Well, there’s no one better to learn from than this journalist who turned to mountaineering on a quest for personal redemption. Find out how Sophie Cairns overcame her fears and asthma to climb seven volcanoes to save herself.
Battle scars and all, veteran entrepreneurs will tell you about the day the music died, and how they intend to find new songs to sing.
*Stay tuned for news of the three winners of the WiT Startup 2020 Pitch who will go on to pitch at the Grand Finals on Oct 1.
“Every step of the way, to everyone around us, we should be asking the question, what are you building? What are you building directly, or helping other people to build, or teaching other people to build, or taking care of people who are building?” Marc Andreessen in his article, “It’s Time To Build”. We put product evangelists in the spotlight to ask how Covid-19 changed their product thinking and what they are building for the future.
We showcase the best of the entries we received for our Open Call for Product Innovation of Covid-19. Each product gets 4 minutes to tell us what it does, how does it work and why was it necessary.
If there’s one breakout star of Covid 19 and the great human experience of staying home for prolonged periods, it is food. It kept us alive, cheered us up, opened up our world to new food choices. There was wholesale migration online of those who cook as well as those of us who eat. Let’s find out how the whole space of food is being disrupted.
There are some who believe some parts of corporate travel will never return. Then there are those that believe that things will return to normal once the health and safety issues can be addressed. But then there’s the economic meltdown that Covid has accelerated. How will it all play out in the corporate travel sector? We get a buyer’s perspective on how we can rebuild the road to a new future?
Rio Tinto Group
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We continue our showcase the best of the entries we received for our Open Call for Product Innovation of Covid-19. Each product gets 4 minutes to tell us what it does, how does it work and why was it necessary.
An entrepreneur at heart, Hugh has spent 30 years leading ventures and building innovation communities around startups and corporations. He co-founded what is arguably the first accelerator in Southeast Asia, JFDI, in 2010, raising a fund of $3m. The idea was to place $25,000 in each startup then get them from idea to investment readiness in 100 days. From 2012-2015, JFDI.Asia backed more than 70 startup companies and the harvest is now coming in, realising 30% IRR. In March, when Hugh contracted Covid-19, he launched a new business in quarantine. Let’s listen to his story.
We showcase the best of the entries we got for our Open Call for Covid-19 Business Pivot stories. Each will have 4 minutes to tell us, what they did, why did they do it, how they did it and the results and metrics achieved. Time to celebrate agility, creativity and resourcefulness.
While the global travel sector continues to withstand the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some markets have started to show signs of recovery. Changed user behaviour requires a change of business strategy. Google Travel has adjusted by leveraging data and Machine Learning to follow recovery.
He started with small community clean-ups to rid beaches of plastic waste after a holiday on a tropical Thai island turned into a plastic horror movie. But he knew clean-ups would not be enough to address the massive problem, and so he started a social enterprise and put on his finance hat to tackle the problem from a business angle. Here’s how he intends to make plastic and sustainability a viable business.
Seven Clean Seas
At WiT Singapore last year, travel tech evangelists Timothy O’Neil-Dunne and Johnny Thorsen did predict that the industry would change faster than ever in 2020. But we doubt that even they saw the Covid comet coming. In that talk, they painted a future where user interfaces will disappear, thanks to AI; where we will own our identity (can’t wait for that day); and “space tourism is normal and costs the price of a cruise and sleep on demand technology eases the burden of ultra longhaul flights”. We thought we’d invite them back for a reprisal of the future, see how things have changed in their view.
In this debate, two Millennials argue it out over how they see the future of work. Who wins? You decide.
Head of Corporate
WE Communications, Singapore
Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas
Director, Product Management (Conversations Platform)
She’s one of Singapore’s most celebrated and animated food guides and chefs. The Israeli-born entrepreneur went from guiding customers through the streets and stalls of Singapore to zooming them into her home and showing them how to cook through her virtual experiences on Viator and Airbnb. Well, tonight, you get a chance to learn to cook a special Singapore dish and you never know with Karni, she’s bound to throw in a surprise or two. Free for the first 20 delegates who sign up. The rest at S$40 each.
Wok 'n' Stroll
Singapore Tourism Board
We go behind the scenes on what it took to create WiT Experience Week, how we went from analogue to digital to today’s hybrid format. To do this, we had to stitch many pieces together to create an collaborative eco-system of like-minded partners who also needed to rebuild for the new world. This is a story of how content came together with tech and venue to build a new kind of event experience, which will be a model for the future.
Yeoh Siew Hoon
The future will be rewritten at both the local and global level. In the short-term, you could argue that Covid-19 swung the pendulum back towards local players who were able to dig deeper into their domestic markets while global giants struggled with their scale and breadth. How will the future pan out? We put several themes to the debate in these two panels.
CEO, Traveloka Experience
CEO & Co-founder
President, Travel Partners
COVID-19 has brought upon a generational challenge to the travel industry. While we are now seeing pent up demand for travel in APAC, the path forward is likely to be uneven across the region. To shed light on how the APAC travel industry might evolve post-COVID, we draw lessons from China’s experience thus far – we analyze how Chinese consumers have shifted their preferences, how travel businesses have adapted and ascertain how these can be applied to different countries in the region.
Covid has sent e-commerce into hyperdrive. South-east Asia will be home to 310m digital consumers by this year end, reaching a number previously forecast for 2025, according to Facebook and Bain & Company’s Riding the Digital Wave: Capturing Southeast Asia’s digital consumer in the Discovery Generation report released August. That means almost 70% of the region’s population 15 years old and older will go digital by end-2020, and the average online spending per person will triple from US$124 in 2019 to US$392 by 2025. We catch up with a veteran in e-commerce in South-east Asia, who’s had experience with Grab and now Carousell, the consumer marketplace for new and second hand items, and his views on the fast tracking of e-commerce and its implications for travel.
Accelerating public cloud adoption was picked by Morgan Stanley as the number one technology theme of Covid-19 changes in this report in June. One investment firm at the forefront of how the cloud will change the world is Future Now Ventures, which was the first Australian private investment firm to partner with Microsoft Australia to accelerate the pace at which independent software vendors (“ISVs”) can grow and succeed. Future Now Ventures launched its first A$100m fund late last year. Co-founder Chris Lee has a successful track record growing and monetising cloud related businesses across the world, including Cloud Sherpas which was acquired by Accenture for a sum said to be greater than $250m in 2015. In this interview, you will hear from Chris how he sees software and the cloud changing the way we work, live, play – well, everything really – and what are the pitfalls and opportunities along the road to the Promised Land?
Deputy CEO, APAC
Future Now Ventures
This is a crisis that challenges assumptions on all levels. It stripped us down to essentials, made us think hard about the way we work, live and play, and our business. We ask two leaders with different perspectives to tell us in 5 minutes each what Covid-19 challenged their thinking on, and how it will rewrite the future for travel.
For travel in Asia to take steps towards recovery, bilateral leisure green lanes have to open safely between borders. After all, intra-Asia travel accounts for the bulk of tourism in the region and domestic tourism cannot be the answer for the future. This panel will discuss the importance of establishing leisure green lanes, what is needed to make it happen and who needs to come together to make it happen.
Since 2008, he’s been leading the charge at Accor Asia Pacific, building up the company to 1,200 hotels with 232,500 rooms across 22 countries. The region now accounts for nearly half of Accor’s secured pipeline. He’s overseen the various acquisitions and integrations – Accor purchased Fairmont Raffles in 2016 for US$2.7b, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts in April 2018 for $567m, and the month after, Mantra Group for $1.2b. So if anyone knows APAC like the back of his hand, been through the ups and downs, it’s this Boston-born hotelier. Let’s find out how he sees this biggest of downers, how he keeps up his spirit as a leader of a huge team and what’s his view of hospitality in the future.
Our three semi-finalists picked on September 29 pitch live to our panel of judges. The winner, who will have the opportunity to present at the Innovation Summit at The Phocuswright Conference in Phoenix, November 16 – 19, 2020, will be crowned at the end of day. The People’s Choice, voted by you, will also be announced. Stay tuned.
In partnership with
Visit one of our lounges, pop in and meet, chat and learn.
Offset the impact of the COVID crisis by understanding new travel data insights and trends on recovery globally and for the APAC region in particular with Martin Herbert, Senior Commercial Director – Operators at Travelport. Martin will also cover key results from the newly released Travelport Global Recovery Guide, the technology measures needed to be implemented by the industry to fully restore consumer confidence and the importance of various capabilities to help you build your recovery strategy.
Fintech and Loyaltech are now as core to travel as Supply and Marketing. COVID has accelerated that process. For many airlines, the only business making money in COVID is the Loyalty unit. For many in hospitality, Fintech cost improvements and credit management are as crucial to survival as reservations. Fortunly predict that in 2020 there will be $4.8trillion spent using digital payments. Travel is changed forever by Fintech and LoyaltyTech. This panel will discuss what you need to do take part in and advantage of this change.
Vice President, Corporate Development
The Monetary Authority of Singapore
How will distribution models change in our industry and what is each player doing to survive and move forward? A GDS and an OTA meet up in this session which will ask questions around the present – NDC, the changing dynamics between low cost carriers and full service carriers, living in a domestic only world – and the future. How will the emergence of new demographics influence the model and how must the GDS model and OTA evolve?
In 2009, he spoke at our conference themed “Tough Love”. That year, he spoke about the start of the clash of civilisations and the decoupling of the world, To go forwards, we invite him back for another conversation and find out what he sees in our future the next decade.
Banyan Tree Holdings
If there is one destination that needed to rise to the challenge of domestic tourism in Singapore, it’s been Sentosa. With a travel-hungry population not able to travel overseas, this island destination joined forces with the Singapore Tourism Board and Economic Development Board to launch a S$45m domestic tourism campaign. In this session, learn how Sentosa’s travel players adapted to a very changed market and how they are building for the future.
Sentosa Development Corporation
Madame Tussauds Singapore
The Lo & Behold Group
Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa
Carnival Corporation has created the world’s first experience Internet of Things platform to deliver enhanced personalization at scale and maximize the guest experience (while leveraging AWS). Currently on ships within the Princess Cruises fleet, we explore how the scalable technology gives guests more control over how they engage in their vacation and generates intelligence that provides crew members with vital insights to deliver hyper-personalized service – and what the future of connected experiences might look like.
Global Head, Travel & Hospitality
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Concluding our series of the women who are rewriting travel their own way. Dr Angelica Angles grew up in Valencia, looking at the stars with her grandfather. And while other girls dreamed of moonbeams and fairies, she dreamt of becoming a rocket scientist and exploring space, specifically Mars. She was part of the selection team for the site launch of NASA’s Mars Exploration Programme, that includes the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter drone. It was launched on July 30 and will touch down in Jezero crater on Mars on February 18, 2021. In this conversation, she tells us about her work about life on Mars and what lessons we can take from planets such as Mars and Venus – to go forwards, we have to go backwards, and she believes these planets have stories we need to heed.
Department of Earth Science, The University of Hong Kong
The Proposition: The Future Belongs To Zoom-Plus: It’s so much better because we don’t have to travel, we are in control, we are more productive, the tech is going to get better and if we want serendipity, we can always engineer it.
The two teams from WiT Virtual Summit return for a rematch on this hot topic. Again, you decide who wins.
Timothy Hughes, Vice President, Corporate Development, Agoda
Paulina Klotzbucher, Group Chief Commercial Officer, Travelstart
Chan Chee Chong, CEO & Co-founder, GlobalTix
Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, Principal, 777 Partners
Shyn Yee Ho-Strangas, Director, Product Management (Conversations Platform), Expedia Group
Emilie Couton, Vice President, Digital Marketing APAC, Accor
Louise Daley, Deputy CEO APAC, Accor
Your vision of Travel 2025 visualised in an art piece as well as other special items up for bidding. Funds raised will go towards The Island Foundation, our charity of choice for 2020. Since 2005, WiT has raised more than US$500,000 to support women and children causes in Asia. And we announce your People’s Choice, WiT Seoul Startup Winner and WiT Singapore Startup Winner.