Last night’s gala dinner was a great success and we are delighted our guests could join us at such a beautiful venue in Mougins. The dinner began and concluded with some games: a blindfolded taste-test for our guests and a team effort from each table to build the most beautiful, rail-themed dessert from a range of sweet treats and decorations. There were some very imaginative efforts - many congratulations to the winning teams!
With the merriment of last night still fresh in our minds, this morning saw us kick off the second and final day of this year’s Amadeus Total Rail Customer Forum. The day began bright and early with an introduction to the Amadeus Erding Data Centre from Eberhard Haag, EVP, Global Operations, Amadeus. This is Europe’s 2nd largest civilian data centre, with many transactions being completed each and every minute. Eberhard explained both how it works and how its efficiency and technological power can benefit the travel industry.
This was followed by a presentation from James Woudhuysen, Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montfort University. James’ presentation began with a discussion about forecasting and the identification of some trends and developments that rail companies should be bearing in mind as they think about the future. James also used examples from other industries to outline the case for specialisation and outsourcing of IT, and highlighted developments in rail in Asia for the consideration of European rail executives. We also heard Friedhelm Schuck from Lufthansa sharing their experience of outsourcing Their IT systems to Amadeus and how railways could benefit too.
The morning concluded with a Michael Frankenberg, Managing Director, HaCon speaking about mobile applications and the new opportunities that they offer for journey planning, navigation and ticketing. This was fascinating, especially as it is a technology that has moved on in leaps and bounds since our last Forum in 2010, with new devices, applications and services being developed all the time.
One key event in the afternoon was the ‘Big Debate’ panel session. Railway Gazette International’s Senior Editor, Nick Kingsley, moderated a panel consisting of Rütger Fenkes Project Leader, TAPTSI/DB; Irene Landolt, Director International Traffic, SBB; Paolo Locatelli, Area Manager, Trenitalia; and James Woudhuysen, Professor of Forecasting and Innovation, De Montfort University. The debate covered three key topics: ‘competitive dynamics’, ‘towards a European Rail Area, ’and ‘customer first’. The result was an interesting conversation that gave the audience a real insight into both consensuses and disagreements within the industry. Paolo Locatelli, for example, posited that the real revolution in the modern rail industry has been high-speed rail, not deregulation; whilst James Woudhuysen took issue with the term ‘deregulation’ itself, pointing out that the changes taking place are better defined as liberalisation – which could, in fact, necessitate further regulation.
We’ve gained some very valuable insights from this year’s Forum and we hope that everyone who has attended has too. The next challenge is to focus on how to take these insights and translate them into real actions that will make our industry a more customer-centric one that puts the traveller at the heart of everything we do.
We can’t wait to see how the industry moves forward and it will be fascinating to see how the issues we’ve discussed have evolved at the next Forum in 2014.