The title is a little provocative, but as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve recently been invited to speak at Eye for Travel’s Customer Centric Strategies for Travel conference in Atlanta in late January, and it is the title I have chosen for my presentation. I’d be interested to hear any guesses on what the fourth mystery ingredient might be.

Today’s post is more a round-up of various things, but without a common theme. Alaska Airlines put out an announcement yesterday about a wide range of new management appointments at the airlines, but this is the one that caught my eye.

Curtis Kopf has joined Alaska Airlines as managing director of alaskaair.com and customer innovation. Kopf has more than 20 years of experience leading communications efforts, e-commerce programs and successful teams at other companies. He comes to the airline from Microsoft, where he was responsible for 12 global websites. He’s also held senior positions in e-commerce site management and merchandising at Microsoft and spent several years in a similar capacity at Amazon. Kopf earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s from Johns Hopkins University.

Is there a trend starting for airlines to hire e-commerce managers from outside of the airline industry? He is certainly not the first recent appointment in the US to a role like this from a non airline background. Maybe it is an acknowlegement that airline websites need to be looking outside of the aviation industry for sources of innovation?

Last night I attended a function at the offices of Edelman on the topic of social media in travel. An interesting evening, especially the presentation from John Peters of Tripology talking about the sale of that business to Rand McNally and how he used social media to generate a bidding war for the company. Also intersting to see people in the crowd hanging off every word spoken by Dave Armano – not that that is such a bad thing as no doubt he knows his stuff. It was good talking to him afterwards as it is fascinating how much it breaks the ice when it turns out you know someone in common – in this case Anne Bartlett-Bragg of social business consultants Headshift. Actually I know her husband Stephen better, and last I heard they were getting some good traction in Asia-Pac for their consulting business which is now part of Dachis Group.

And here is a final piece that I never got around to writing about, but that seems to fit in well today when I am writing on no theme in particular. Back at the Phocuswright conference in Arizona recently I hosted a dinner for 12 people in a private dining room with the theme Three Years in Three Minutes. Each person in attendance had to speak for three minutes over dinner on one key trend or technology that would have a major impact in online travel in the next three years. Apart from myself I had the following people in attendance.

  • Erin Hull, Delta, General Manager, e-commerce Strategy
  • Nathan Holm, US Airways, Director of Online Marketing, Business Technology Delivery
  • Oli Dervey, Aeroplan, Strategy & Innovation
  • Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, T2 Impact, Managing Partner
  • Andy Newman, British Airways, Manager, ba.com & Mobile Channels
  • Scott Ahlsmith, 23TouchPoints, President
  • Frank Grasso, e-channel search. Founder & CEO
  • Renata Tilkian, South African Airways, Director Sales Development, Online Channels
  • Tim Hughes, Orbitz, VP Commercial HotelClub, Hotel Services Asia Pacific
  • Denis Lacroix, Amadeus, VP Development – Sales & e-commerce platforms
  • Pierre-Louis Chouette, Amadeus, Business Development – Online Travel Agencies

And the topics chosen for their informal presentations (not in the same order as above, just to maintain some confidentiality)

  • The coming war between Search and Personalization
  • I’m a commodity…Get me out of here
  • From HK1 to 1:1 – the power of converging travelers’ preferences with their historical travel purchases to better understand, predict and influence their purchasing behavior by delivering one meaningful recommendations
  • Finding customers in fragmented media
  • Delivering relevant targeted offers and products to the right customer at the right time
  • The future of authority in search
  • Personalize and contextualize, or risk becoming marginalized
  • Pre-shopping solutions are tools best used in an advertising model and SEO process
  • The increasingly blurred line between pre-shopping and shopping
  • Personalized travel through mobile
  • Extending the Direct Channel: Engaging Mobile Content at the Destination
  • Creating loyalty through data-driven marketing instead of miles and freebies

Regular readers of this blog might guess my topic as being  The increasingly blurred line between pre-shopping and shopping, but at the end of the night eveyone voted on which presentation was the best and despite votes beiong cast for seven different presenters, the winner with three votes was Tim Hughes.

Dave Armano and I were last night talking about the importance of ensuring you enjoy what you do for work, and I can definitely say that doing things like hosting that dinner at Phocuswright really helps to keep my job fun. The positive feedback from so many of the guests afterwards was just the icing on the cake.

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