This year, ARC’s annual TravelConnect conference went virtual, with a monthly series of videos and virtual events featuring experts across the air travel industry.

Each event featured deep insights on topics ranging from travel technology to COVID-19 regulations, airline sales data and fraud prevention. In chronological order, here are 10 of the best moments from the series in 2020.

  1. The debut of BCG’s Travel Recovery Insights Portal (TRIP). Back in early June, when the trajectory of air travel sales was still unknown, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) partnered with ARC and 3Victors to release a free dashboard to help the travel industry better understand the pace and shape of recovery. In the first episode of the TravelConnect Virtual Series, Chuck Thackston gave a tour of the TRIP dashboards.

  1. The segmentation of travel recovery began to emerge. Also in the June episode, Thackston revealed some trends that, at the time, were just starting to appear. Domestic travel was recovering more quickly than international travel, and leisure travel outpaced corporate recovery. These trends largely continued through 2020. BCG’s Glenn Branscomb and 3Victors’ Rick Seaney also shared how close-in and last-minute bookings were starting to trend upward, another enduring trend in traveler behavior for the year.

  1. Originally designed for product differentiation, rich-data communication tools serve a valuable new purpose: Conveying important health and safety information. As travelers began to seek out more detailed information about what their trips would actually look like — from aircraft cleanliness protocols to seating details — The Beat’s Editor-in-Chief, Jay Boehmer, pointed out that tools such as Routehappy’s universal product attributes were increasingly being used to convey important health and safety information in TravelConnect Episode 2.

  1. Airports, hotels, airlines and travel managers rallied to protect travelers. Curious what airports, airlines, hotels and travel managers have been doing to help protect travelers? In TravelConnect Episode 3, ZS Associates’ Meetings and Travel Manager, Suzanne Boyan; SEA Airport’s Managing Director, Aviation, Lance Lyttle; and Marriott’s Vice President, Sales and Revenue Analysis, Michael Partidge, each shared the great lengths their respective organizations were taking to ensure traveler safety, from proactive communication to standardization and duty of care.

  1. Detailed instructions on preventing a ransomware attack, from a cybersecurity expert. In TravelConnect Episode 4, Gemini Advisory’s CEO and Co-Founder, Andrei Barysevich, called ransomware the “number-one threat right now for a business.” He detailed five key ways to prevent ransomware and avoid its costly and devastating impacts.

  1. A clear and detailed answer to the question, “What’s really on the dark web?” The dark web, or deep web, has a reputation shrouded in mystery, and many people are confused by exactly what it’s used for, or how it’s accessed. Also in Episode 4, Barysevich begins to break down the “criminal underground,” how it works, and what cybercriminals are after.

  1. In areas where COVID-19 started to come under control, consumer sentiment shifted toward optimism. In Episode 5, recorded in October, ARC’s Director of Marketing Strategy, Content and Brand, Peter Kane, outlined consumer sentiment trends across the globe. While areas with greater control of the virus showed brighter consumer optimism, travelers still felt hampered by evolving travel restrictions, quarantine guidelines and regional differences. While 31% of consumers said they wanted to increase their leisure travel, only 21% believed they would be able to do so. Sixty-five percent of surveyed consumers said they would be willing to fly in the next month, with certain health and safety measures in place — many of which had already become standard for most airlines.

  1. Southwest and United shared what omnichannel retailing means to them. For ARC, omnichannel retailing means enabling travelers to buy their airfare anywhere, with the ability to also service it anywhere — whether directly through the airline, or through their TMC or OBT. ARC’s Peter Kane posed the question, “What does omnichannel retailing mean to your airline?” to Southwest Airlines’ Rob Brown, Senior Director of B2B Strategy and Services, and United Airlines’ Director of Distribution, Tye Radcliffe. Both shared their airlines’ strategies for creating positive relationships with, and seamless experiences for, customers across all sales channels. This episode is full of valuable omnichannel insights from both panelists, but for another great moment, listen to the end of the episode to hear about Brown’s and Radcliffe’s post-pandemic travel plans.

  1. A highly unexpected year for two esteemed travel industry leaders. In late 2019, ARC's CEO, Mike Premo, announced that he would retire at the end of 2020, and Dave Hilfman was enjoying his first year of retirement from United Airlines. Neither of them could have predicted the challenges that 2020 would bring. In this segment, Premo shares his story of how 2020 unfolded during his last year at ARC, and Hilfman shares his unexpected journey. Throughout the episode, they exchange stories about their proudest and most challenging times in the travel industry.

  1. Great advice for work and life, from Mike Premo and Dave Hilfman. At the end of the December episode, Peter Kane asks Premo and Hilfman what piece of advice they would give to someone early- to mid-career in the travel industry. Their responses:

  • Be brave. Take chances. Don't play it safe.

  • Be willing to take on the tasks that nobody wants to do. You'll have to do some extra work, but it will pay off handsomely later.

  • Listen carefully — to your fellow employees, your teams, your customers.

  • Be kind, be gracious, and be sincere.

On this positive note from two industry luminaries, ARC concluded the TravelConnect Virtual Series for 2020. TravelConnect will return in January for the first episode of 2021, which will explore sustainability in travel.

To view all ARC’s TravelConnect episodes, as well as other videos on omnichannel retailing, airline sales data and travel trends, subscribe to ARC’s YouTube channel.