With more than 400 attendees representing over 162 companies, including 43 airlines and 77 travel agencies, ARC TravelConnect 2017 was ARC's largest and most expansive event to date.

The conference kicked off on Thursday, October 19, with a keynote presentation from George Blankenship, widely recognized as the architect of Apple’s brand-building retail strategy and Tesla’s redefinition of the car-buying experience. Blankenship inspired attendees to take lessons from Apple, Amazon and Tesla to rethink how they innovate around the customer experience.

The day followed with a panel of airline and OTA executives discussing the evolving distribution landscape, insights from senior-level human resources professionals on how to recruit top talent, an exploration of new travel agency models and an overview of the United States economy and its impacts on travel from Sarah Quinlan, Mastercard's senior vice president of market insights.

To the delight of many in the audience, Holly Hegeman, founder and publisher of
PlaneBusiness Banter, interviewed American Airlines' newly appointed senior vice president of global sales and distribution, Alison Taylor, during a highly engaging “anything goes” session.

On day two, attendees heard directly from ARC about its work to continue reducing debit memos via the Debit Memo Working Group and how ARC is building the future of settlement. This included an announcement that ARC is now "Open for Business" to work with airlines and travel agencies via New Distribution Capability (NDC) and direct connect (e.g., API) models.

The event concluded with a pair of town halls for both airlines and agencies, which offered attendees a chance to engage with airline leaders and ARC experts about key issues that are shaping the future of airline distribution such as payment updates, information regarding ARC’s new carrier dashboard implementations, an overview from ARC's agency services division about ARC's Super Entity project, insights into ARC’s ongoing risk management and fraud initiatives and ARC's enhanced distribution options outlined earlier that morning.

As an industry unifier, ARC will continue to produce events like TravelConnect in the future to bring together key stakeholders throughout the travel industry, and specifically the airline distribution community, to learn from each other, work together and discover new opportunities to help businesses grow and, ultimately, enhance the travel experience.

Next year's TravelConnect will take place October 11 and 12 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, located just outside Washington, DC, at the National Harbor in Oxon Hills, MD. Registration is already open, so reserve your spot today.

To learn more about TravelConnect 2017 or next year's event, visit the post-event website at www.arctravelconnect.com.

Interested in speaking at next year's event? Share your ideas with us!