Phocuswright Europe Highlights and Opportunities for OTAs: Trip Ninja's Guide to the Latest in Travel Innovation

This year, Phocuswright Europe's conference reflected on the theme, "You, Me & the Machine", gathering industry leaders, startups, and investors to discuss key topics such as digital transformation, generative AI, machine learning and traveller behaviours.

Our Trip Ninja team joined the more than 500 Phocuswright attendees in Barcelona to participate in presentations, roundtable discussions and network with other innovators in the travel industry.


There were discussions abound throughout the conference. With so many forces driving industry change, our team quite enjoyed discourse surrounding how to make travel better, and more profitable for small-to-medium sized Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), and resonated a lot with the following discussions:

Better Travel with AI?

Of course, with the title, "You, Me & the Machine", discussions about AI were ever-present throughout the conference. We have seen that OTAs are taking to generative AI to enhance traveller search, as well as back end operations. In using AI for search enhancements, there continues to be a learning phase, both with respect to conversions and in traveller experience. With our search-focused flights technology, Smartflights, Trip Ninja has seen significant upticks in conversion in providing machine-learning driven flight itineraries for complex flights.

In a Center Stage interview, Rod Cuthbert, the founder of Viator, indicated the importance of research and choice for leisure travellers in the holiday-planning process. Other panelists and speakers throughout the conference disagreed, indicating the importance of narrowing down the overwhelming amount of choices. For Trip Ninja, this comes down to our OTA partners' preferences. Whether your customer demo is looking for choice, or simply looking for the best-priced flight itinerary, SmartFlights can provide the right results.

You, Me & NDC

In his Executive interview, Avi Mehr, CEO of Travelperk, spoke about the current drive towards integrating NDC content. For Travelperk, the breadth of content is important, but how they receive this content is largely agnostic. In 2023, Trip Ninja made a significant change to our API to enable us to search and compose complex itineraries in a completely content agnostic way. With the wave of current NDC integrations, we have found that improving multi-city and VI flights is typically best utilized with a combination of GDS + 1-2 LCC or NDC content sources. We are excited to learn how NDC will continue to shape the industry, and offer additional personalization through technology.

Opportunities for OTAs

Generative AI in Travel

One of the most talked-about travel tech innovations at Phocuswright Europe was the rise of Generative AI-driven search tools. With chatbots now live with several OTAs, discussions emerged about how tailoring travel experiences to individual preferences can enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty, potentially increasing conversions. This technology leverages vast amounts of data to predict and meet traveler needs in real-time, offering personalized itineraries, recommendations, and dynamic pricing models.

Data, Passenger Information and Digital Identities

As such, discussions of big data and data analytics were impactful. Leaders discussed how leveraging traveller data can help companies better understand traveler behavior, predict trends, and make more informed business decisions while finding solutions to protecting traveller information and ensuring data accuracy. As we navtage online as an industry, growing trends of Digital Identities and how they can be leveraged to support cutsomer experiences is critical. As a back-end only technology provider, Trip Ninja does not collect any traveller information, but we use historical flights data from VariFlight to help our OTA partners create the best itineraries for their customer segments. It is clear that continuing to use data to provide better personalization will continue to be top of mind to flights providers.

Technology and Development for Travel Companies

Building technology solutions in house vs. outsourcing has always been a topic of discussion across industries, but with the vast changes in travel and so many projects to "keep up" with, assessing whether to build or buy a technology is more impactful than ever. Discussions throughout the conference spoke to choosing partners and technologies that resonate with your customers, and align with the optimal experience for them. This is even more important when thinking about niche OTAs that service a very specific customer segment. At Trip Ninja, we understand the resources required to prioritize new technology within OTA infrastructure, which is why we have built our products with OTAs in mind. With flexible features, easily managed risk and revenue models, and integration partner services, Trip Ninja allows our OTA partners to service their travellers their way.

Trip Ninja's participation underscored its commitment to leading the charge in travel tech advancements, offering cutting-edge solutions that address the complexities of modern travel. The insights gained from the conference not only reaffirm Trip Ninja's position as a thought leader but also provide a roadmap for future developments and strategic initiatives in the travel sector.

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