Ai Mega Event 2021 -
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Mega Event 2021

Date: 22-24 June. 10am EDT/4pm CEST
Delegates: 200+
Recordings: Request Recording

Mega Event is back! We hosted the event virtually a!  Our opening session, the famous Lions’ Den product pitching competition opened the event on Tuesday 22nd of June.

Check the agenda below for the times of these and all subsequent sessions.

Overview: What a year it has been! Traffic for airlines and travel companies has evaporated and is now only slowly coming back in most of the world. However, loyalty has played a huge part in keeping airlines and travel companies afloat. In the case of airlines, this is partly from selling off parts of Frequent Flyer Programs, as well as selling miles/points to members (and the co-brand banks too!) These initiatives have shown where the money is. The question now is how to sustain earnings from loyalty, and also how to profit as travellers return – especially in the ancillary and merchandising areas?

This virtual conference advised delegates about where the money is. Industry leading experts shared their front line insights.

Event Sponsors


Pre-Event Lions’ Den – New Products & Services Pitching Competition
Tuesday, 22 June 2021 

10:00am – 11:00am Eastern
(4:00pm – 5:00pm Central European)

Lions’ Den Product Pitching Competition – 1 hour of what’s new to help you find the money!

Ringmasters – Introducing the Pitchers, Judges & Keeping everyone on time!
Michael Smith, Ai Events

Chief Lion & Judges:
Simon Talling-Smith, Chief Advisor CommonPass and former CCO at Qatar Airways
Clare Ward, Consultant & Board Advisor Digital Transformation, @aquila (formerly at BA and Etihad)
Marta Castander, Chief Operating Officer, TDDS (formerly head of Air Product at Iberia/Avios)
Aurelius Noell, General Partner, Team ABC
Paula Thomas, Podcaster, Let’s Talk Loyalty

Pitching Companies
• Kornchain (Animesh Ghosh, Founder & CEO)
• Air Black Box (Patrick Edmond, COO)
• Plan 3 (Simon Dempsey, CCO)
• 2e-Systems (Phil Douglas, CEO)

Questions from the Delegates
After the pitches, the Judges go off to vote for the best product. During that time, the audience will be able to ask the pitchers questions, too. Past pitchers have gone on to be ultra-successful companies like Adyen and Plusgrade to name but two. This will be your chance to quiz them!

Loyalty & Co-Brand Mega Event
Wednesday, 23 June 2021

10:00am – 11:00am Eastern
(4:00pm – 5:00pm Central European)

Show me the Loyalty Money!

Welcome Remarks from the Co-Chairman
Michael Smith, Ai Events
Vanessa Horwell, Chief Strategy Officer, ThinkInk

5 Key Ways to Use Loyalty to Generate Money:  Who has done it & what are the lessons?
Phil Shelper, Author of best seller “Loyalty Programs: The Complete Guide”

Getting your comms right:  Maintaining relevance & building engagement in the travel downturn
• Paul Smitton, CEO, Asia Miles

Co-Brand Spend & the Impact of the Pandemic:  Key lessons to keep users spending
Kate Morgan, Director International Partnerships, Auriemma Group

What’s next?  So you’ve sold some miles…are your members still loyal & engaged?
Derek Whitworth, Managing Director, Marketing & Loyalty Optimization, Air Canada
• Marcus Puffer, VP Global Loyalty Strategy, IBS Software

11:00am – 12:00pm Eastern
(5:00pm – 6.00pm European Time)

Debate – The 64 Million Dollar Question:  Are Loyalty Programs about cash , or about Loyalty?

Join our debaters as they share their arguments from both sides of this perennial debate. Purists think loyalty programs are solely to generate loyalty. Pragmatists “see the money.” What’s your view? Has the pandemic changed things fundamentally? Can you have both true loyalty and short term cash?

Question Time – Ask the Money Raising Experts for their Insights

It’s been a tough time with planes grounded, countries and hotels shut, revenue has disappeared quickly.  However costs have remained.  So how do you balance the books?  We’ll be bringing together industry experts who have been on the front line of developing (and delivering) the strategies that have brought in the money.

• Michael Smith, Ai Events

Expert Panel (and money raisers!):
Rob McDonald, Chief Commercial Officer, IAG Loyalty
Renato Ramos, Director of Loyalty, Star Alliance
Erin Murray, VP Marketing, Points
Andrew Davidson, Chief Insights Officer, Mintel

Ancillary & Merchandising Mega Event
Thursday, 24 June 2021

10:00am – 11:00am Eastern
(4:00pm – 5:00pm Central European)

Can you still drive revenue without passengers | And what comes next when they return?

Welcome Remarks
Ornagh Rana, former CMO, Datalex and Strategic Advisor, Orana
• Michael Smith, Ai Events

How the Pandemic has changed everything:  And what you need to do next
Jay Sorensen, President, IdeaWorksCompany

The view from the front line:  Airline Executive Interviews Sessions

Scott McCartney, Columnist & Travel Editor, Wall Street Journal
• Jay Sorensen, President, IdeaWorksCompany

Interview #1:
Maya Leibman, EVP & Chief Information Officer, American Airlines

Jonathan Clarkson, Managing Director Loyalty Partnerships and Products, Southwest Airlines

11:00am – 12:00pm Eastern
(5:00pm – 6.00pm European Time)

TALKING POINTS and Audience Questions:  How ancillaries and holistic thinking can shape the future of travel for the better!

– Is Digital the answer to ancillary revenue?
– Direct versus Indirect Ancillaries – can OTA’s help?
– Will Big Data solve everything?
– NDC and IATA One Order – where are things at?
– Onboard opportunities
– Can subscription models deliver additional revenue?
– Will bags and seat fees increase?
– Is selling the middle seat ethical in a pandemic world?

Ornagh Rana, former CMO, Datalex and Strategic Advisor, Orana

Julie Kyse, VP Global Air Partnerships, Expedia Group
Philippe Garnier, VP Omni Channel Commerce, IHG Hotels Group
Kevin O’Shaughnessy, Founder, Cityhook
Stig Williams, Head of International Travel & Partnerships, Avis Budget Group

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