I didn’t see all the presentations on the first day – it is impossible when you have two tracks running in parellel, but here are a few of the highlights, at least as from what I saw.
- Barry Biffle from Spirit did a great opener. When an airline tells you what they did wrong it is so much more insightful than only success stories. He talked about not following other supposedly successful airline models and instead being sure that the strategies were right for your market. Another interesting point he made was referring to Spirit as a bar with 7 million patrons a year. To sell more alcohol, don’t ask catering companies, asking TGI Fridays.
- Best presentation of the day has to go to Jim Davidson of Farelogix along with Graham Wareham of Air Canada. For the first 10 seconds I was cringing thinking these guys were going to die on stage, as the opening was like a 1980′s Dire Straits video that now looks horribly dated. But boy did they recover. Jim absolutely nailed it in the end with his 2019 scene from the Maple Leaf Lounge with the back up video. Very slick indeed.
- As I’m purely IT I tend to steer clear of the GDS sessions, but I did sit in on Joelle Cuvelier from Sabre doing a presentation and she definintely comes across well on stage and gets the Sabre story across well. Later she was on a panel with the always impressive Robert Buckman from Amadeus (I’d never met him before today, but had heard so much about him) and Paul Hesser from Travelport. All three were good, but the highlight of that panel was Gianni Cataldo from Datalex getting a question from his customer United on open source software and then getting skewered by Jim Davidson of Farelogix (naturally pushing Hawkeye) over his answer; the poor guy was backpeddling at a million miles an hour.
- Drinks at the end of a long day. Not really highlight, but it gives me a reason to run this photo of Kate Sojka from Comarch, David Hassan from Virgin Blue, and Paddy Murphy who needs no introduction. Had a great conversation with all of them, plus the many others not pictured.
- Guestlogix private function. Once the taps stopped flowing at the outdoor drinks, I was fortunate enough to be invited by Tony Ashe from Guestlogix to a private function they were holding for airlines to present their product. A nice intimate function with about 30 people; almost all of whom were from airlines; plus Will from Disney who was promoting his affiliation with Guestlogix. These guys know how to market as it was good food, good drinks and a decent setting. At one point I was sure I heard Tony say he was about to present a 90 minute video, but luckily it turned out to be more like 90 seconds. Guestlogix really seem to be getting some runs on the board with in flight sales, but as those of you who sat thought my presentation will know, my interest ends when the person gets on the plane – exactly the point at which Guestlogix takes over.