//The ABTA Travel Convention 2019: Exploring a Brave New World in Tokyo

The ABTA Travel Convention 2019: Exploring a Brave New World in Tokyo

This year’s Travel Convention in the Japanese capital will focus on the challenges of tomorrow.

The Travel Convention, ABTA’s flagship event for the UK travel industry, will take place in Tokyo, Japan from October 7-9, coinciding with the country’s hosting of the Rugby World Cup and ahead of next year’s Summer Olympic Games in the capital. Alongside a popular range of social activities, excursions and sporting events, delegates will hear advice and attend inspirational seminars based around this year’s theme: Brave New World.

The dynamic Japanese city of Tokyo, almost 6,000 miles from London, offers an opportunity to explore a new setting, culture and way of thinking. From its pioneering work in technology and science, including its advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, to its unique popular culture, such as manga (Japanese comics) and anime (Japanese animation), the country is a leader in innovation and has introduced the world to cutting-edge products and ideas.

Tokyo therefore provides the travel industry with the ideal location to explore what it can learn from the East and what it could do differently – both as an industry and as individuals – to adapt, grow and prosper. Our world is constantly altering due to geopolitical, social and economic transformations. Globalisation and competition are accelerating the speed of change, while technological advancements are changing the whole consumer experience. We are increasingly seeing the rise of the conscious traveller, as people’s environmental concerns influence their holiday choices.

Though we may be confident upgrading our smartphones and our systems, updating our core habits, attitudes and beliefs is harder. Yet as the world changes, so must we. Going forward into 2020 and beyond, it is paramount that the industry broadens its horizons and dares to be bolder, braver and open to new possibilities. 

This is why this year’s sessions are based around the theme of Brave New World. At the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in the centre of Tokyo, up to 600 attending travel professionals will hear from companies and individuals, including those listed below, who are adopting new and exciting approaches to travel while pushing boundaries and driving change.

Speakers left to right: Andy Duncan; Gabrielle Walker; Marcel Theroux

Confirmed speakers

Dr Gabrielle Walker
A strategist, writer and broadcaster, Dr Gabrielle Walker works with businesses to address global challenges, with a focus on sustainability, energy, mobility, finance, land use, plastics and climate change. 

She has taught at Cambridge and Princeton Universities, served as climate change editor at Nature and features editor at New Scientist, and has presented programmes for BBC TV and radio. Gabrielle has published four books, including co-authoring the best-selling The Hot Topic: How to Tackle Global Warming and Still Keep the Lights on. Described by Al Gore as “a beacon of clarity”, the book looks at the realities of, and potential solutions to, climate change. Walker has also written for, among others, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

As a consultant, she advises businesses on future investment, manufacturing and the circular economy, and the impact that strategy in these sectors can have on public perception of a business. Her work has enabled her to travel to the North and South Poles, climb trees in the Amazon, extract lava from an active volcano, swim with piranhas and experience zero gravity.

Walker’s session is titled “Protecting our Planet and our Industry”. From rising sea levels and acidic oceans ruining natural landscapes to hotter temperatures threatening to shorten winter sport seasons, climate change is set to transform the travel industry. This session will explore the key threats our industry faces, the shifting flows of tourism and the exciting new technologies and initiatives starting to emerge.

Marcel Theroux
Novelist and broadcaster Marcel Theroux was born in Kampala, Uganda. He studied English Literature at Cambridge University and International Relations at Yale, where he specialised in Soviet and Eastern European Studies. He is the award-winning writer of six novels, including The Paperchase, Far North and Strange Bodies. He has written numerous screenplays and presented more than a dozen documentaries ranging from the Japanese aesthetic principle of wabi-sabi to climate change. Theroux is also a frequent reporter on Channel 4’s popular TV show Unreported World.

Theroux’s session is titled “Lost in Translation”. Japan is famed for its complex etiquette – from knowing when to bow and take your shoes off to how to exchange business cards, the nuances of its culture can appear mystifying to an outsider. This will be an intriguing session on these unique customs as Theroux shares his experiences travelling throughout the country in search of the wabi-sabi.

Andy Duncan
Unveiled as the CEO of Travelopia in March 2018, Andy Duncan has previously delivered significant growth, market leadership and strategic change in a variety of industries, including both commercial and commercially orientated public purpose companies. His prior CEO roles include Channel 4, Camelot and HR Owen. He was also a board director at the BBC and Unilever, and was the first chair for Freeview.  Duncan’s significant non-executive positions include president of the Advertising Association from 2014 to 2019, chair of the Media Trust from 2006 to 2014, and various commercial NED and charity trustee roles, including for Children in Need.

In his session “Face to Face with Andy Duncan” he will draw on his experiences 18 months into his role as the CEO of Travelopia to share his travel-outsider vision for the business and give his perspective on this year’s theme – Brave New World. ABTA.com

Other sessions at the Travel Convention 2019 will address the following topics:
• Thinking differently
• Our changing world: sustainability and the rise of conscious travellers
• New and exciting approaches to technical and creative innovation
• How travel companies can push boundaries and drive change
• What we can learn from the East
• Globalisation and adapting to different markets
• Geopolitical, social and economic transformations
• Plus a range of expert and inspirational guest speakers