Mike Croucher, chief architect for Travelport, will present the opening keynote speech at Travel Forward, drawing on his vast experience in the travel technology sector to reinforce the message that the digital revolution in travel has not yet run its course.
The inaugural Travel Forward, the new technology-focused event co-located with WTM London, takes place from 5 – 7 November 2018 at ExCeL London, UK in the North Hall (entrances 9 and 10). Croucher’s keynote takes place on the opening day, Monday at 9 am in the Keynote Theatre.
As chief architect, Croucher is responsible for devising, developing and delivering the technical infrastructure upon which Travelport’s travel commerce platform operates, now and in the future. The technology needs to be scalable to handle Travelport’s growth and future-proofed to accommodate any strategic changes to its business plans.
The net result is that he needs to not only be intimately aware of current tech, future innovations, and consumer trends but also be able to apply this knowledge in an enterprise context.
His experience in travel technology predates the internet by many years.
Croucher graduated in mathematics from Loughborough University in 1980 – co-incidentally the same year as the first-ever WTM London – before spending a year as a graduate trainee for Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson. He then spent a few years as a contractor before securing his first dedicated travel tech role in 1983 as chief programmer for SAS Scandinavian Airlines.
Since then, his professional focus has been exclusively on travel tech, with his career path mirroring many domain developments and the wider e-commerce world. He joined Galileo in 1988 around the time that the US global distribution systems were looking to break into Europe.
Ten years later he joined BA and was there during the creation of the first internet booking engines, the development of online travel agents and the growth of the low-cost carriers.
He was still with BA in 2007, the year in which Apple launched its first iPhone and the age of the smartphone began. His time at BA also encompassed the emergence of Facebook and Twitter, the non-stop growth and expansion of Google, the early days of Uber and Airbnb, the mainstreaming of the cloud and big data. Globalisation had begun. Blockchain was waiting in the wings.
He took on his current role with Travelport in 2014.
His keynote speech will touch on all the above and provide a context for what Croucher will identify as the priority areas of interest for the travel industry. He will distil the current tech landscape into the primary business-critical components – mobile, artificial intelligence, big data, hybrid cloud, the Internet of Things and blockchain.
Blockchain will be one of the major discussion points at Travel Forward, and Croucher will share Travelport’s thinking around the short, medium and long-term applications of the technology in travel. Earlier this year it released a white paper “Blockchain and distributed ledger technology at Travelport” which identified possible use cases within travel.
However, with some thirty years’ experience of travel tech, Croucher is also able to anticipate where blockchain – and indeed some of the other tech innovations that currently have buzzword status – will not work.
Richard Gayle, Event Manager, Travel Forward said: “We’re delighted to have secured one of the most experienced and articulate travel technology experts working in the industry today, from one of the sector’s most innovative companies.
“Mike Croucher’s keynote will be absolutely aligned with our aims for Travel Forward: forward-thinking, informative and entertaining, with a relentless focus on how tech can be deployed by the travel industry to profit from the ongoing digital revolution.”