Future vision in Denmark

Paul Colston takes in the second edition of copenhagen’s Tomorrow’s Urban Travel Conference

The trends, challenges, and opportunities that will define urban travel in the years to come, and how we get ready to face them, formed the core of the content at the Tomorrow’s Urban Travel (TUT17) conference in Copenhagen, 11-13 October.

Hosted by city tourism board Wonderful Copenhagen, the conference boasted an impressive speaker line up, including Fortune500 advisor, Joseph Pine; CEO of Destination Melbourne, Laura Cavallo; European MD of AccuWeather, Brian Lavery and founder and CEO of Conscious Travel, Anna Pollock.

The goal was not just traditional chat and presentations about future gazing in the travel and business events space, but to move the conversation from global trends to concrete action.

Wonderful Copenhagen CEO Mikkel Aarø-Hansen literally set the scene: taking the stage at the Royal Playhouse in Copenhagen, where he welcomed the 320 guests and introduced keynote B. Joseph Pine II, who spoke about the experience economy. “Every business is a stage,” he said, and with services being commoditised, Pine noted organisers needed to be staging experiences for their customers, as these experiences, he said, were now the key economic offering.

Creating a ‘memory’ and the virtues of ‘localhood’ were other key elements of travel, he highlighted. “Millennials do not need more stuff,” Pine added, “but rather new experiences”. Visitors and delegates were looking for time well spent, he said, noting ‘authenticity’ had become the new consumer sensibility. And, going with the ‘local’ Hamlet theme, he offered destinations the Polonius test : ‘Be true to thy self’.

Pine also spoke about ‘transformative travel’ saying that we were most open to change when we travel.

Luke Richardson from travel fare metasearch engine and travel information blog Momondo spoke about building a brand of travellers rather than customers and offered interesting examples of his company’s network of amateur writers ‘keeping it real’ on the ground around the world.

Enrico Nonino of lastminute.com then hit a different tone, offering his theories of the power of music to inspire the traveller.

Brian Lavery, of Accuweather, unsurprisingly, built up his part about the importance of weather to travel, and how to incorporate even bad weather into a positive local experience. The value of weather data, he said, was a great weapon for event organisers in their planning. Accurate forecasts, he said, could save money and facilitate better planning.

The most stimulating part of the programme, for me however, were the pitches from young and talented start-ups in the local Danish industry, including the idea of a new Norse Theme Park and Guide Catch app which allows travellers to connect with likeminded people available near them for either simply socialising or swapping skills and services.

Anna Pollock’s infectious curiosity injected some harder analysis and insights into sustainability data, before Laura Cavallo of Destination Melbourne spoke about how local hosts could rediscover their home towns, illustrating this pride in localhood from concrete examples from the suburbs of Melbourne.

A hotel panel brought some interesting points from funky brand 25hours and Zoku Hotels, although the Marriott International & Ritz-Carlton speaker’s input lazily failed to engage the bright ideas put forward by those looking for future hotel models and ways of doing things differently, rather reflecting a great example of self-satisfaction.

“We want Copenhagen to continue to be at the forefront of tourism innovation – so we have a responsibility to create events that take tomorrow’s travel trends seriously. This is why Tomorrow’s Urban Travel is so relevant, because it challenges status quo of the industry and forces us to look at what we do and how we do it through different lenses,” Aarø-Hansen told CMW after the event.

Consider the status quo truly challenged in Copenhagen!


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Paul Colston

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