I’m safely back in Madrid after a few days in Los Angeles, although I’m still waiting for my luggage to arrive – at least it got lost on the way home, rather than the way there, as happened to Len Lubbe coming from South Africa and who as a result had to be up on stage in presumably the same clothes he’d flown in.

I’ve already covered Day 1, and the truth is I only saw four of the presentations on the final day due to other commitments. Rather than focus on the presentations I saw from Kyle Moore of Sabre, Frank Socha of ATPCO or Paul Ackermann of Travelex, I’ll write about the one that was most relevant to me – Gianni Cataldo of Datalex. The title of his presentation was Back Office Technology: Making the back office efficient for ancillary products.  I saw Gianni at a previous conference, and I always find his stuff interesting. Partly because he is a competitor to Amadeus, but also partly because he has the courage to take on a difficult topic like presenting on back office technology. I presented on a similar topic at the recent Amadeus e-Commerce customer conference, and lost my position as most highly rated speaker as a result, so full marks to him for taking on what is hardly a sexy topic when most other presenters are focussing on the more obvious topics during the ancillary revenue conference stream.

The truth is that the topics he was covering such as integration and fulfillment of ancillary products are of vital importance for every airline, but the reason in my opinion most airlines have hardly scratched the surface of ancillary revenue is largely because they find the back office piece all to difficult. I’ve talked on many occasions before of how some small tweaks to the back office setup can have a massive impact on ancillary revenue, but that really is just tip of the iceberg stuff.

Those people responsible for airline ancillary revenue that missed Gianni’s presentation did themselves a disservice; as did those delegates responsible for loyalty that did not pick up and read the seat drop brochure from Colloquy. I read their magazine style brochure on the flight from London to Madrid, as after the flight from LA I needed a break from the somewhat heavier text I had just waded through. No need to recount all the articles here, but it really was an interesting read on many of the latest happenings across different industries insofar as they relate to customer loyalty and/or loyalty programs. The printout they also left for delegates wasn’t anywhere near as interesting for me, but maybe that is because of my aversion (in many, but not all cases) to survey data. I did enjoy reading on page 18 the line (that I’ve deliberately taken out of context): “The big news here is really the lack of news”