Digital transformation takes centre stage

Shane O’Flaherty, Global Director of Travel and Transportation at Microsoft to deliver this morning’s opening keynote

Hospitality and travel organisations are embracing digital transformation to thrive in today’s competitive environment. We asked today’s keynote speaker, Shane O’Flaherty, Global Director of Travel and Transportation at Microsoft, to give an insight into how the company is addressing the challenge of transformation.

Microsoft solutions and its intelligent platform enable hospitality and travel organisations to combine the best of digital and in-store to deliver personal, seamless, and differentiated guest experiences by empowering people and capturing insights to drive growth.

Microsoft’s Travel and Transportation division focuses on enabling hospitality and travel organisations to digitally transform with Microsoft’s technology and its eco-system of travel partners.


What areas of transformation is Microsoft focusing on?
We are focused on four key pillars: enhancing the customer experience, driving employee empowerment, optimising operations and then assisting in transforming their products. The travel industry is making advancements with technology to transform how consumers plan and experience travel. Mobility is moving beyond basic uses to improve the total trip experience, and some of the key technologies that are driving this technology is the cloud, massive data and artificial intelligence innovation.

What advice do you have for travel companies when it comes to data handling and optimisation?
Travel companies should be looking at how to free the treasure trove of data (consumer and operational data) that they sit on, create a common data model in the cloud and then use AI to drive more operational efficiencies and an improved customer journey. We have seen many of the companies beginning this journey today and are excited for the transformative results ahead.

As you look at the travel agency marketplace, we see chat and AI voice will be quicker and cheaper than the existing models that exist today. As we get richer profiles of consumers, based on the data, the computer will be able to understand preferences even more and use that information to drive more personalised experiences. The integrated experiences that used to be hand built by agents are now evolving with AI to be built at a global scale. Long term, it is all extending to a connected traveller experience, that no longer will be as fragmented and siloed as it is today for the consumer.

Can you explain Microsoft’s Personalisation Solution?
The Personalisation Solution intelligently customises guest experiences and streamlines operations through advanced customer experience management capabilities. Near-real-time data and tools allow your associates to connect with guests at the right time with the right offers.
The solution integrates predictive analytics with customer profiles, needs, and significant events—so you can know what guests want before they tell you. By using outcomes of every customer decision, you can ensure transaction continuity. This allows you to boost customer engagement with offers that speak specifically to each guest.
Microsoft’s Employee Productivity and Collaboration solution, meanwhile, enhances employee engagement by creating a digital workplace for your hospitality and travel associates and management. The solution consists of modern collaboration tools that reduce paper or email processes and increase employee productivity and communication flows, while securing digital identities within your organisation.
It allows your employees to share, automate, and find real-time information from any device. This ensures faster collaboration—and that your employees are at least as informed as the guests they serve.

How important is ITB Asia to you in terms of its conference?
ITB Asia is one of the most important conferences in the Asia marketplace and it is always inspiring to listen to and learn from companies driving innovation in the space. Microsoft is delighted and honored to participate in this travel conference.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018
9:00 am – 9:15 am
Location: Level 3, Room 3010A/B

Photo: Shane O’Flaherty – Global Director of Travel and Transportation, Microsoft