JAYSON Westbury, chief executive AFTA
The definition of disruptor according to the Cambridge Dictionary is “a company that changes the traditional way an industry operates, especially in a new and effective way”. The definition of disruptive according to the same source is “to cause or tending to cause disruption”. I make these differentiations as it is important to really get some things into perspective.
In my view I don’t believe the travel industry and in particular in Australia has had a disruptor arrive for over a decade.
I think it is reasonable to say that things are changing in the industry for sure and consumer habits are shifting back and forth within the various forms of travel distribution which includes dealing with people to people, online, buying travel products directly from the supplier or a combination of all these pathways to purchase travel. But the simple fact is, from where I sit, I don’t see any disruptors in the travel industry.
I can see plenty of disruption as various pieces of the travel value chain go about things differently to perhaps what has been the traditional way of doing things for decades, but in the end the outcome is the same. The trip is advertised, the consumer decides how to buy the trip, they book it, go on it, come home and (we hope) rave about it and do it all again.
I am not suggesting however that there are people not plotting and planning disruptor type concepts — if that was the case I would think perhaps the travel industry is on a path to nowhere.
But a disruptor entering the market would need to break the cycle in a new and innovative way if they were to be a disruptor in distribution.
An example could be that a new travel company enters the market that has placed ground-breaking algorithms onto every new NBN connection that is made such that it will intuitively learn what a family might cook regularly and then push bookable offers onto their smart TV which can be confirmed by simply blinking twice at the book icon. They would have already had the profile stored and opted into the service, but that would be something that a disruptor could do.
So as we go forward talking about travel disruptors I think the important undertone of the conversation must be that if companies are undertaking activities that are really new and different and what they are doing does not breach the Australian Consumer Law, then I would think the industry had best think about how to beat them at their own game.
And, last month we celebrated once again the industry night of nights at the 2019 NTIA. A big congratulations to all the winners- it was our best ever event and so amazing that so many across the industry and the travel value chain continue to value the NTIA more than any other industry event. We say thank you to all involved and look forward to the 2020 NTIA as ever better.