Summit of the Americas: Review

Other voices, emerging dynamics

We round up further highlights of the Knowledge Hub that covered vital themes such as sustainability, humanisation and digitalisation, the consumer view, design and the power of data.

In planning this event, we were keen to ensure that the voice of the consumer – not just that of the industry – was heard loud and clear. Dermot Davitt discussed the much-changed needs and requirements of the traveller, and the prospects of travel recovery in the COVID-shaped world, with Scott Mayerowitz, Executive Editorial Director of renowned US travel website, The Points Guy. Click on the video to view the full session.

J.D. Power Travel Senior Director and Practice Lead Michael Taylor offered insights into how passengers judged their airport experiences throughout the COVID pandemic, and what airports and retailers can do to maintain strong ratings as they move towards recovery. Click on the video to view the full session.

The fascinating subject of how the industry balances humanisation and digitalisation – notably the role of staff in a changed retail world – was at the heart of a panel discussion on 6 April. It included Spark Business Services Group Founder and CEO Heidi van Roon, ARI-North America General Manager Jackie McDonagh, Dufry Chief Operating Officer South America Gustavo Fagundes and Servy CXO Jeff Livney. Jackie McDonagh described a future digital roadmap which integrates in-store “bricks and mortar” with online ecommerce and pre travel to offer a 360-degree experience. But, through this, the need for the human experience will remain.

Gustavo Fagundes noted the company’s heavy investment in digitalisation but emphasised the need for the “human touchpoint”. Understanding the customer and the shopping experience is vital in providing the best service, he said. “Digitalisation is there to help us. The more we learn, the more we are able to add value. We still need our team. They are the heart of our business and our main relationship with the customer.” Livney said: “We certainly don’t see technology replacing hospitality. If anything we see technology removing steps in service and barriers to free up time for restaurants to create a better experience through faster service and order accuracy.” Van Roon noted: “The power of the human experience has been the life blood that has supported the success of travel retail so far and it is the life line that will support it in the future. To align our industry priorities is truly the unique window of opportunity before us now as we plan a brighter future.” Click on the video for the full session.

The Knowledge Hub featured several sessions which revealed the latest data on the travel market. There was a strong contribution from ForwardKeys (in association with airport advertising specialist PSI) on the outlook for America air ticketing and travel. Click on the video for the full session.

Renowned Argentinean economist Carlos Melconian shared his insights on the economic and political outlook for Latin America amid the COVID-19 crisis. Click on the video for the full session.

DesignHouse Creative Director Peter Dobie illustrated how travel retail stakeholders can leverage brand power and identity in the rapidly-changing world of travel retail. Commenting on how the pandemic has changed the retail landscape, Dobie said: “When COVID-19 arrived, the music stopped. Or so we thought, before the penny dropped and we realised that in every crisis lies opportunity.”

He added: “Now is the opportunity for brands to stop, assess their current setup and measure up for future innovations. 2020 was a transformative year for retail, offering a compelling case for a digital-first approach.” For the full session, click on the video.

*Highlights from the TRBusiness-organised Sustainability Forum and the DFNI Americas Awards can be found on their respective websites, with The Moodie Davitt Report’s day by day rolling coverage of the full event here.

*Registered delegates can continue to visit the Summit of the Americas, download digital assets from exhibitors and view the Knowledge Hub and Engagement Lounge sessions in the post-event ‘encore’ period that continues until 9 May, through this link.


The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 294 | 28 April 2021

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 15 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

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