TORONTO — This year’s Online Revealed conference attracted techies from all facets of the travel and tourism industry to celebrate a decade of change in technology, as conference organizers celebrated the event’s 10th anniversary.
Conference delegates converged on the new Telus Performing Art Centre in downtown Toronto. “It’s not just about the number of years,” said Patricia Brusha, co-founder and principal of Mississauga, Ont.’s A Couple of Chicks Distribution Marketing, in welcoming delegates. “It’s about the impact the conference has had on many people. It’s launched many careers and created a community experience.” She added: “When we started this conference 10 years ago, Facebook had just launched, the first Tweet was tweated, Google Maps went live and Google Earth was revealed. There’s been a lot of changes in the last 10 years, and more change will come over the next 10.”
Following that theme, Hari Nair, EVP of Expedia, shared insights into the latest Canadian travel research, including a comparison with the U.S and a look at the changing technology landscape. Not only has there been a slew of tech changes, but Nair offered several insights into the evolving global landscape. China has surpassed U.S. as the largest purchasing nation, global tension continues unabated, and oil has dropped to lows no one ever imagined, fuelling an average of $490 in savings — enough to spur increased consumer travel.
Nair expects e-commerce to double in the next few years. “Mobile is the new online,” he said, pointing to stats that show 62 per cent of users bought goods on the web in the last six months. In fact, Expedia now delivers six room nights per second, and with lower air ticket prices, inbound travel from all points of origin is up. Cities experiencing the most growth include: Charlottetown (46 per cent); Halifax (35 per cent); Kamloops, B.C. (33 per cent); Vancouver (17 per cent); and Banff, Alta. (17 per cent).
As for the future Nair stressed that the rate of change will continue at unprecedented levels. “It’s taken seven years for the Internet to get into our households, and three years for Facebook, you can see that there is a shortening of time lapse before mass use of technology. Things are changing much too rapidly. It’s hard to predict where we are going. We are on the cusp of something innovative.”