Day 1 Programme

Oct 18, 2016

Venue: Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Heliconia Ballroom (Level 3)

08.00 - 09.00

Get Your Stage Pass

09.00 - 09.15

Curtain Call

09.15 - 09.30

Lights, Camera, Action

Yeoh Siew Hoon, Founder & Managing Director, WIT sets the stage for Reimagination.

Opening Volley: Notes From The Top with Michael Issenberg, Chairman and CEO, AccorHotels Asia Pacific

This is the hotel group to watch in Asia Pacific. It reached its 700th hotel in June and is opening one hotel in the region every week and this is the executive who led the integration with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, after the £3b acquisition and is responsible for the APAC pipeline which constitutes close to 50% of group development. Accor is also disrupting itself – acquiring companies like FASTBOOKING, One Fine Stay and taking stakes in alternative accommodation sites like Oasis Collection and Square Break. In this conversation, we will delve into issues of consolidation, integration, distribution and alternative accommodation.

09.30 - 10.00

The Adventures of KAYAK, featuring CEO, Steve Hafner

A one-on-one conversation with the pioneer of meta-search in the US and maverick entrepreneur, Steve Hafner, who was also on the founding team of Orbitz before starting KAYAK. His LinkedIn page says his mission is “Make the web and apps better. Especially if you're looking for travel information”.

10.00 - 10.30

Roundtable 1: Meet The Pioneers and Movers Of Online Travel In Asia

Since the first WIT in 2005, the online travel market in Asia Pacific has undergone massive changes. Some of the pioneers are still around, some have disappeared, and new leaders have emerged. We reflect on the past, take stock of the present and project into the future with this gathering of pioneers and movers.

Stuart Crighton, CEO & Co-founder, Cleartrip
Oliver Hua, Managing Director, Asia Pacific,
Martin Symes (As Himself)
Timothy Hughes, Vice President Business Development, Agoda

Backchat: Ram Badrinathan, Director/Co-founder, GlobalTHEN (First Asia-based analyst for Phocuswright)

10.30 - 11.00

Intermission, sponsored by Revinate

11.00 - 11.30

Roundtable 2: Meet The Search Pioneers

A blend of pioneers and movers in meta-search take to the stage to reflect on the evolution of meta-search in Asia and where global trends are taking it.   

Ross Veitch, CEO & Co-founder, Wego
Hichame Assi, CEO, HotelsCombined
Fritz Demopoulos, CEO, Queen’s Road Capital & Co-founder, Qunar
Kei Shibata, CEO & Co-founder, Venture Republic
Brian Schmidt, SVP, Global Sales, TripAdvisor

Moderator: Lorraine Sileo, SVP Research, Phocuswright

11.30 - 12.00

Google's View of Travel

A 15-min view of Google's plans for travel followed by a Q+A session.

Eric Zimmerman, Director, Google Travel

12.00 - 12.30

Reimagining The Way We Fly

“You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky”, said Amelia Earhart. Meet those who’ve helped masses see trees as shadows from the sky in Asia and find out how they are reimagining their business as it gets more complex and competitive in the skies.

Steven Greenway, Deputy CEO, UFly Alliance
Yoshihiro Morii, Chief Commercial Officer & EVP Commercial, PEACH Aviation

12.30 - 13.00


13.00 - 14.00

The Trends That Matter

Before you can reimagine, you have to be in the present and comprehend the key trends influencing travel. An overview of the best of Phocuswright research from its top analyst.

Lorraine Sileo, SVP Research, Phocuswright

14.00 - 14.15

Reimagining Expedia

Between these two global heads, they cover the Expedia world – Cyril Ranque overseeing lodging and Greg Schulze covering “anything that moves”. Both will share their vision of Expedia which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, its evolution into a beyond-distribution partner as well as its plans in flights, rail and tours & activities, as well as how Expedia intends to win in the region, following Schulze's relocation to Singapore earlier this year.

Cyril Ranque, President, Lodging Partner Services, Expedia Group
Greg Schulze,
SVP Commercial Strategy & Services, Expedia Group

14.15 - 14.45

WITovation Awards 2016, presented by Sojern

Presenting the winners of this year's WITovation Awards.

14.45 - 15.15

Reimagining Travel: The Return of Voice and the Rise of Text

As the Internet matures, the travel industry needs to reimagine how interactions with consumers are done. From the search boxes to a single search box, we are moving into the realm of text search via chat bots and voice search, which require new flows and experiences, potentially relying more on AI than on UX. This talk will cover a current industry overview, while also doing a deep dive into the early days of Skyscanner’s foray into chat bots and voice search.

Filip Filipov, Director, Product, Skyscanner

15.15 - 15.25

Intermission, sponsored by

15.25 - 15.55

Resurgence of The Traditional Travel Agent: Is AI The New Threat Or Opportunity?

If you read the headlines in the travel media lately, you’d be aware there’s a lot of talk around the resurgence of the High Street travel agent. Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas this year saw record attendance, leading CEO Matthew Upchurch to declare, “Travel agents are the hottest new thing that never went away,” adding, “Consumers today want more than the cheapest bed. They want somebody who understands them, and can challenge them, and get them to experience things they might not have done on their own. A booking engine doesn’t do that.” Truth or hype? Let’s have a debate.

Robert Meza, Director, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships, Zumata
Duncan Horton, CEO, Travel Weekly UK
Ken Mishima, VP eCommerce Strategy, i.JTB, Japan
Robin Yap, President Asia, The Travel Corporation

15.55 - 16.35

Reimagining Talent: Scaling For A High-Tech World & Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

Kathleen Urquhart, Head of Talent, Asia Pacific, Skyscanner

16.35 - 16.50

Leading and Building For Growth

How do you lead and build for growth in a hyper-competitive global market? A discussion around fund-raising, brand building, expansion, leading and managing teams and talent recruitment, from three unique voices and perspectives.

Stephan Ekbergh, CEO, Travelstart
Hugo Burge, CEO, Momondo Group
Turochas Fuad, CEO, Spacemob

16.50 - 17.20

Close of Day 1

17.20 - 17.30

Reimagine Party, hosted by Sojern & WIT

Venue: The Pavilion @ Far East Square
Coaches will be available to take you there.

18.30 - 20.30

WIT Japan & North Asia Party

Venue: Sum Yi Tai (roof top level)
25 Boon Tat Street Singapore 069622 (only a few minutes walk from Pavilion @ Far East Square)

20.30 onwards


Day 2 Programme

Oct 19, 2016

Venue: Marina Bay Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Heliconia Ballroom (Level 3)

Gather For Your Morning Cuppa

08.00 - 09.00

Kicking off Day 2 on the Main Stage

09.00 - 09.10

Opening Volley

At WIT 2015, we asked Deep Kalra about the possibility of Ctrip investing into MakeMyTrip given the many acquisitions Chinese companies were making in the Indian e-commerce space. In January 2016, the union happened – Ctrip invested US$180 million into MMT. This conversation catches up with one of Asia's largest online travel brands as they seek to expand beyond their home shores. 

Jenny Wu, Chief Strategy Officer, Ctrip

09.10 - 09.50

Hospitality Reimagined

Act 1: The Odd Couple, featuring Bill Black, Executive Director & Morris Sim, CMO, SilverNeedle Hospitality

Bill, a veteran hotelier, and Morris, a techie turned marketer, have been quietly collaborating to transform the way boutique hotels are run. Now, they set their sight on reimagining a hotel group.

Act 2: The Lawyer, The Pianist and The Banker

Meet the trio who’ve each reimagined themselves and hospitality in their own way and on their own terms. 

Loh Lik Peng, Founder, Unlisted Collection, Singapore
Aya Aso, President & CEO, Agora Hospitalities, Japan
Chris Ong, Founder, George Town Heritage + Hotels, Penang

09.50 - 10.45

Reimagining Mobile

Today’s users have moved to a mobile world. Why hasn’t the web? Google will help explore the challenges of today mobile experience, and help Travel brands drive a greater level of customer retention, engagement, ROI, and love.

Ryan Ferguson, APAC Travel Lead, Google

10.45 - 11.00


11.00 - 11.30

The WIT Hospitality Debate

What are the latest trends shaping hotel distribution and marketing. Two panels get into the heart of the hotel distribution debate. Questions that will be asked – what are hoteliers doing to increase their online sales, whether it be through direct or indirect means, how is mobile influencing strategy, and what opportunities lie ahead given the changing customer behaviour in Asia?

Panel 1:
Lara Hernandez, Vice President Sales & Distribution, AMEA, Intercontinental Hotels Group
Luke Moran, Executive Director, Sales, Revenue & Distribution, Mantra Group
Shaizeen Contractor, Chief Revenue Officer, TFE Hotels

Panel 2:
Ben Charlton, Director, Global Partner Group, Asia Pacific, Expedia,Group
Fabian Bartnick, Vice President, APAC, LODGIQ
Guillaume de Marcillac, Co-CEO, FASTBOOKING
Diana Helander, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Revinate
Patrick Andres, Managing Director Asia Pacific, Rainmaker

Moderator: Lorraine Sileo, SVP Research, Phocuswright

11.30 - 12.30

Reimagining Where & How We Sleep

Travellers today are looking for different experiences for their stays on the road. A look at different segments of alternative accommodation, including the rise of branded budget players.

Feargal Mooney, CEO, Hostelworld
Min Yoon, Chairman of Board, BnBHero & CEO of TideSquare
Abhinav Sinha, COO, OYO Rooms

Moderator: Mario Jobbe, Co-founder, Circos Brand Karma

12.30 - 13.00


13.00 - 14.00

Reimagining The Web: Smell, Taste, Touch of A Multi-Sensory Internet

Professor Adrian Cheok, Director, Imagineering Institute, Malaysia and Chair Professor of Pervasive Computing, City, University of London

14.00 - 14.20

China Reimagined

She returned to China, after a career with Expedia, to launch Tujia, regarded as the Airbnb of China. In a few short years, Tujia's reached unicorn status and Melissa Yang, as CTO, has played a critical role in its success. She brings her unique vision of China to help us reimagine her home country.

Melissa Yang, Co-founder, Tujia
Interviewer: Fritz Demopoulos, CEO, Queen's Road Capital Ventures, Hong Kong

14.20 - 14.40


Low Cost, Long Haul, Reimagined

There were many sceptics who dismissed the idea of low cost in Asia, let alone low cost       long haul. This airline was the pioneer of low cost, long haul in the region, had a flying start, faltered but now is back again to prove the model not only can work but makes sense in the new reimagined world of Asia.

Arik De, Head of Commercial, AirAsia X

14.40 - 14.55           

From Air To Ground – The Road To Ancillaries

Yesterday, you heard from the airlines about what's happening in their world and the opportunities they see. Today, you hear it from the other side. How is airline distribution evolving and changing and what's happening in the world of ancillaries, seen as the golden ticket for airlines and what role can intermediaries play in it? According to the most recent CarTrawler Ancillary Revenue Yearbook by IdeaWorksCompany (2016 edition), a total of US$40.5 billion in ancillary revenue, comprising nearly 8.7% of total sales, was earned by 67 airlines in 2015.  Yet only 10% of airline ancillaries are said to be sold via intermediaries. How can everyone in the value chain benefit from this trend?

Dr. Jens Wohltorf, Co-founder & CEO, Blacklane
Jason Nash, GVP Global Marketing & Product Incubation, Travelport
Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, Co-founder, Air Black Box

Rod Cuthbert, CEO, Rome2Rio
Moderator: Bobby Healy, CTO, CarTrawler

14.55 - 15.35

An Investor's Guide To The Galaxy

A leading equity investment analyst shares his philosophy on investing, his take on the travel vertical and his thoughts on the Nintendo/Pokemon Go phenomenon and how it's not just fun and games, as well as other stuff he's watching.

Sugiharto Widjaja, Equity Investment Analyst, Capital World Investors

15.35 - 15.50


15.50 - 16.20

The WIT Startup Pitch Grand Finals, powered by Travelport Labs

Our finalists from the WIT Bootcamp on Oct 17 vie for the Startup of the Year prize from our panel of judges. Winner wins a place in the Travelport Labs Accelerator programme, which comes with seed funding of US$30,000 and US$120,000 worth of cloud credits from IBM.

16.20 - 16.40

The Local Agents of Change

Meet our homegrown agents of change who are making waves in their markets, and innovating to stay ahead of the global competition.

Panel 1:
Takanobu Yamamoto, Executive Officer, Travel Business, Rakuten Inc
Tony Duan, Vice President, Alitrip

Panel 2:
Kangjoon Ryan Lee, Head of Travel and Leisure Business Group, Ticket Monster (Tmon), South Korea
Alfan Hendra, Head of Accommodation, Traveloka, Indonesia
Leo Wang, Vice President, Qyer, China
Blanca Menchaca, COO & Co-founder, BeMyGuest

16.40 - 17.30

The Great Debate: In The New Reimagined World, Machine will win over Man

Whether it’s chat bots or robots, machine is taking over everything, even in love where young people prefer virtual mates to real dates. Two giants go head to head. You vote who wins. 

For: Bobby Healy, CTO, CarTrawler
Against: Martin Symes, 10x WIT Debate Champion

Adjudicator: Hugo Burge, CEO, Momondo Group

17.30 - 17.40

Announcement of the WIT 2016 Startup of the Year & Closing

Twelve years is the end of a cycle; we close with a 12-year reflection on the journey of WIT since 2005.

17.40 - 18.00

Closing Cocktails (by invitation only)

19.00 - 20.30

Note: Programme is subject to change.