Published 17 April 2019

by Ulla Persson
Expert Business Traveller and Associate Director

Mama Mia! Soaking up the future in Madrid

From Sir Tim Berners-Lee to the non-stereotypical hacker and inspired by how to hack a company’s culture, I saw it all at the T3CH 2019 event – Transforming Tomorrow’s Travel - at the end of March in Madrid.

At the end of March, I joined 350 people from the travel industry – from airlines, rail providers, hotels and travel agencies to tech companies, consultancies and startups - at Amadeus’ T3CH event in Madrid, Spain. 

Focused on Transforming Tomorrow’s Travel, the sessions revolved around the cloud and what it means for the future; IT security and intelligence; and how technology developments will affect the future workforce. 

I believe that technology is useless if it doesn’t add value to people so the connection between technology and people was very important for me.

Connecting innovation to the people using it

It was great to see that the five startups in the mini-hackathon walked this talk. They all started from what makes life easier for the end consumer.

I really liked a startup called Fluo - which didn’t win - but had a great concept related to travel insurance. It’s quite scary to think that 56% of us don’t know what our credit card travel insurance covers, and 57% of all travelers buy a second travel insurance not knowing that they are already covered. With Fluo’s solution, which is already on the market, travelers can easily see what is already covered and if there are any gaps to be filled with a top-up travel insurance.

Hackers can come in useful

Keren ElazariIf you hear the word ‘hacker’, do you think of a geeky nerd dressed in black clothes and a cap. Well, Keren Elazari, a young charismatic lady from Israel (who also happens to be a hacker) defies this stereotype.

At T3CH, she explained that there are actually two types of hackers – ‘good’ ones and ‘bad’ ones. And, she reckons we should use ‘good’ hackers to discover the weaknesses in our systems before a ‘bad’ hacker gets there first!

How to hack your company culture

On the subject of hacking, there were a lot of discussions around how to change the mindset and culture of the company and how leaders must be role models in driving this change. It’s all about ‘Hacking the Culture’. For example, as a leader, ‘gatecrash’ a meeting, ask what it is about and, if it’s not related to our corporate strategy, cut the meeting! I’m going to try that one out one day!

Breaking a mindset or habit doesn’t happen overnight. At the event we were told to swap our watch to the other wrist for 24 hours. I kept mine on the other wrist for longer - it was only on the third day that I started to look at the right wrist to check the time. I think this is a really good example of how our behavior and habits are so engrained in us that it takes ages to change.

And saving the best till last…

Sir Tim Berners-LeeThe absolute highlight was Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the Internet. I got goose bumps sitting in the same room listening to this legend.

These days he acknowledges that he has created something that has grown into a ‘monster’ and is now working on solutions to give back ownership of personal data to people not corporations.

About the Author

Ulla PerssonUlla Persson joined Amadeus in 2009 from the travel industry and is our Commercial Director for Business Travel in Northern, Eastern, Central and Southern Europe. She spends a lot of time on the road living out of her suitcase as she oversees people in 27 countries stretching from Switzerland, across the Nordics, down to Israel and over to Kazakhstan. One of her pet peeves is why people ‘place’ travelers in boxes according to the year they were born as she believes her travel behavior and desire for a work-private life balance has much more in common with the millennials even though she mightn’t look like one!