CWT Exchange 2015 – event highlights

The UK’s number one travel management company held its annual client conference – CWT Exchange – at the glorious Renaissance St Pancras in November. The event brought together some of the industry’s leading experts to discuss how technology and innovation are affecting travel today and the likely impact on the future.

BBC reporter Steph McGovern hosted the conference under the theme ‘Meet. Travel. Explore’. She also moderated a panel of experts from United Airlines, Marriott, Travelport, Citigroup and CWT who debated issues facing the industry.

Attendees were travel managers, meeting planners and those that do both – as is increasingly common. Presentations, keynote speakers and breakout sessions addressed the challenges they face day-to-day and aimed to prepare them for the future.

With innovation and technology at the core of the event, Chris Bowen, CWT UK&I senior vice president, shared the latest news about CWT AnalytIQs, CWT’s ‘future proof’ MI reporting tool that was previewed at last year’s Exchange and has been rolled out to nearly all our clients since. The value of this was underlined later in the day by speakers who concluded that ‘big data’ was of use only if it could be analysed.

The latest enhancements to our travel app CWT To Go – including airport maps – were also revealed. A recent proliferation of travel apps could make the choice overwhelming, but Adam Austin, senior director sales marketing and strategy, suggesteda one-stop shop is the business travel nirvana”.

Another first for the event was the CWT Exchange app powered by Crowd Compass by Cvent that attendees were encouraged to download. It contained their event schedule, and details of speakers and attendees, while allowing them to connect with each other. Ensuring the breakout sessions were truly interactive, the Exchange app also allowed polling so that attendees could give immediate, measurable feedback on issues debated.

 One of the highlights of the day was a presentation by David Rowan, editor-in-chief of Wired, who spoke about the increasing pace of change. His predictions about flying, and driver-less cars and other innovations might have seemed unbelievably futuristic if it hadn’t been for the hard facts and statistics that he shared to support his claims that this tech is closer than we think.

Attendees were invited to select two interactive breakout sessions where they would be encouraged to contribute their views on industry topics both verbally and by polling through the CWT Exchange app.

 The day’s revelations provided plenty of food for thought, and discussion over a delicious dinner in the grand Hansom Hall, was spirited and full of humour, so attendees were in good heart to welcome on stage comedian Joe Lycett, finishing the evening on a high.