Archive for November 2011

New Video Interview with Rohit

November 28, 2011

A new video interview with Rohit in conversation with the Middle East technology website tbreak at the BlackBerry Innovation Forum in Dubai, discussing what technology will be like in ten years from now.


New Study and Survey on Airport 2025 – Rethinking the Customer Experience

November 28, 2011

Rohit Talwar – CEO – Fast Future Research

November 23rd 2011

Rohit Talwar is the CEO of Fast Future Research and Project Director of the Airport 2025 study being conducted for Amadeus. In this article he explores some of the key drivers shaping customer expectations and the commercial outlook for airports. He then discusses the resulting critical strategic imperatives for airports to ensure they can survive and thrive in a decade or more of economic and market turbulence.

Developing Customer Strategy in Turbulent Times

Every airport would claim to be dedicated to enhancing the service it offers to its customers – be they passengers, airlines or those just visiting.  The issue is one of determining what enhancements to make over the next decade or more and how to finance them. Airports around the world – like many other capital intensive businesses – are faced with an unprecedented level of uncertainty and challenge as they try to develop these medium to long term strategies and investment plans. A combination of key factors is adding to the uncertainty.

Firstly, most analysts and economists now accept that the current economic turbulence, public debt crises and market uncertainty will be with us for the next 5-10 years. The choppy economic outlook combined with continued fuel price volatility and intense competition will put real pressures on airline profits in both developed and developing markets alike. In the face of profit concerns, airlines will inevitably seek to reduce landing costs and demand higher subsidies where they can. Increasingly, we also expect airlines to press for a share of the commercial revenues airports generate through activities such as retail, dining and parking. At the same time, continued economic uncertainty means individual travellers may well become more cautious in their airport spending behaviour.

A second challenge is that travellers have increasing choice as a result of more airports coming online, expanding capacity at existing airports and growing competition from other means of transport such as rail. Finally airport users are also becoming more demanding in terms of the quality of the airport experience. There is a particular focus on increasing the speed with which passengers can complete their journey from check-in through bag drop and boarding pass checks to security, passport control and boarding. In addition, there is a growing emphasis on consumers emphasizing experiences over the buying of more physical goods. The issue is determining what kind of affordable experiential leisure activities airports can develop that would have broad enough appeal to justify the investment.

Despite the challenges, customer insight has never been more readily and rapidly available. Social media now provides a powerful mechanism for passengers to share their feedback, concerns and improvement ideas. Airports have been inconsistent in their approach to handling this rich source of customer insight.

Unintended Consequences of Innovation

A growing concern for airports is that the faster we speed the customer through the core airport journey, the less time they need to allow between airport arrival and flight departure. This could have a direct impact on revenues for retail and food and beverage outlets – particularly for business travellers. Few would argue against the need for improvement. For example, enhancements such as permanent boarding passes and baggage tags, biometrics and automated border controls all help smooth and accelerate passenger flows through the airport. Equally, most accept the benefits of engaging passengers through their mobile devices and the future use of Near Field Communications to give them greater control of their airport experience. The challenge though, is how to fund this continuous investment in service improvement when commercial revenues may be coming under pressure from all sides?

Rethinking the Customer Experience – Service is the Killer App

In response to the commercial issues, a clear strategic imperative is emerging for airports around rethinking the customer experience. Key components of this experience redesign include:

  • Personalization – An emphasis on tailoring service delivery, communications, offers and incentives according to customer needs, loyalty, travel destinations and past behaviours
  • The Passenger Journey  – Streamlining the core passenger processes through physical design changes, technology enhancements, information provision and – most importantly – staff training and development
  • Customer Insight  – Conducting real dialogues to reveal where else passengers currently do their shopping, what they buy, why they buy it and how they can be encouraged to do more of it at the airport
  • Retail Proposition–  Revisiting the retail mix to determine the balance between luxury, discount, pop-up and novelty that will prove most popular to those passing through the airport
  • Enhancing the Experience – Identifying affordable leisure, dining and experiential offerings that would encourage customers to spend more time at the airport prior to departure
  • Packaging the Offer – Smart bundling of leisure, dining and retail offers to encourage customers to make time at the airport an integral part of the overall travel experience.

For some the transformational journey has already begun and there are tremendous examples emerging around the world of how airports are reinventing themselves. For others, the mists are beginning to clear and the need for a radical rethink is becoming increasingly apparent. Although many of the changes will require technology solutions and physical alterations to airport layouts, by far the biggest shift will be in the mindsets of those who own, manage and operate airports. We need to give ourselves permission to focus on enhancing the total airport experience in a customer centric manner.


The Airport 2025 Study and Survey

To help examine these challenges and explore the possible evolution of the passenger experience, Amadeus has commissioned Fast Future Research to undertake the Airport 2025 study. The study analyses the key drivers of change, identifies alternative possible airport business models and assesses future customer priorities. The results will be shared at the Future Travel Experience Conference Asia in Kuala Lumpur – February 8th-10th 2012.

As part of the study, Fast Future is currently running a global online survey to explore how customers would like to see the airport experience evolve over the next decade or more. The survey can be found here

Fast Future will donate US$1 to the Save the Children Fund for each person that takes part in the survey. The survey closes on December 9th 2011.

Rohit Talwar is the CEO of Fast Future Research and leads the Airport 2025 research programme. Fast Future is a global foresight research and consulting firm that specialises in advising firms in the aviation, transport and tourism sectors. Fast Future’s work draws on a range of proven foresight, strategy and creative processes to help clients develop deep insights into a changing world. The research is designed to help clients understand, anticipate and respond to the trends, forces and ideas that could shape the competitive landscape over the next 5-20 years.


The Meetings Sector in 2012

November 3, 2011

The Meetings Sector in 2012

Tim Hancock – Research Director

Rohit Talwar – CEO

Fast Future Research and Convention 2020

November 2nd 2011


In this short article, we have summarized some of the key trends and developments we anticipate in the sector in 2012.


In many ways the downturn of 2008 and the AIG effect have catalyzed the need for change within the industry.  It is also increasingly likely that much of the western world will either be in – or on the brink of – recession for much of 2012. Other nations will experience a period of stagnant to low growth. However, we expect these ‘inevitable surprises’ to come as a shock to most of the industry. The industry is generally pretty bad at anticipating or preparing for economic disruption and we think it will continue to struggle with this. The challenge is to become more strategic and develop plans B and C rather than rely on a single set of hope based assumptions.

In this environment, as part of Fast Future’s ongoing Convention 2020 project, we asked our network ‘What key strategic priorities do you expect for corporate and association event owners over the next 1-3 years?’ Interim results from October 2011 suggest that cost reduction and a clear measurement of ROI are the two key themes, with 66% of the respondents suggesting them to be critical.

  • Other important strategic priorities include shortening the planning and execution cycles of events to keep them relevant (55%) and a greater use of hybrid and virtual formats (53%).
  • The most popular strategy for cutting costs amongst our respondents was to close unprofitable meetings (65%). This could well result in less experimentation as planners stick to tried and trusted methods, but there are also reasons to suggest change will be enforced. Running shorter events and merging events together were second and third most popular choices with 57% and 54% respectively.
  • Meetings also need to concentrate on growth, as cuts alone will not provide the platform for future success. If cost cutting revolves around organisational change, it could be argued that growth prospects are strongly correlated with innovation in event design and delivery.
  • 79% of our respondents foresee a primary role social media as improving event marketing, targeting and communications. Social media could also be used to increase delegate engagement, before, during and after the event (66%). Indeed delegate engagement will become a key theme that ties together many others – such as measuring ROI. Enabling a greater sense of delegate ownership of events could also increase engagement – with social media key to enabling instant feedback on sessions (64%) and allowing the online co-creation of events (59%).
  • Face to face meetings will remain the cornerstone of the meetings industry but increasing the effectiveness of such meetings, in a demonstrable way, will be critical for future success.
  • Virtual and hybrid events will also be seen as a compliment to face-to-face rather than a straight-up replacement. However, if technological developments and their successful utilization occur at a greater rate than change within the structure of many meetings, self organization may increasingly occur without the need for a meeting to solidify the community.
  • In the coming years, the industry will need to embrace these communities and offer facilitative solutions that go beyond providing free Wi-Fi. Using mobile apps for networking, creating online communities and linking remote audiences via telepresence will soon become standard offerings – particularly for corporate events.

For corporations, there is no doubt of the need to embrace hybrid models in order to connect staff in multiple locations and time zones. However, for associations the imperative is not so clear cut. The problem is that those demanding hybrid events are the same demographic that most associations have found it difficult to reach and attract. This group is also reluctant to spend even small amounts for virtual participation and it is hard to keep their attention with so many other desktop distractions available to them. We have heard a lot of horror stories about how much associations have spent on creating hybrid events. Even though the cost of creating hybrid events is dropping dramatically – we have yet to find an example of an event that has broken even in terms of balancing the full cost of staging the hybrid activity against the revenues from remote participants. However, we live in hope!

In our view, a lot of associations will opt for ‘hybrid lite’ models. They will stream live content to the web and then have very focused interaction sessions, when for 30-60 minutes external participants will be able to interact with speakers and other delegates. Those delegates who want to maintain a continuous dialogue with people outside the event will be encouraged to do so via social media on their own phones and laptops. We believe a far bigger priority for most associations will be to refine their meeting designs to make them ‘must attend’ events for their sector.


Tim Hancock is the Foresight Director and Rohit Talwar is the CEO of Fast Future Research and together they lead the Convention 2020 research programme. Fast Future is a global foresight research and consulting firm that helps clients understand, anticipate and respond to the trends, forces and ideas that could shape the competitive landscape over the next 5-20 years. Fast Future’s work draws on a range of proven foresight, strategy and creative processes to help clients develop deep insights into a changing world. These insights are used to help clients define innovative strategies and practical actions to implement them.

We’re Looking For Interns!

November 1, 2011

Job Title – Research Intern x2

Working for – Fast Future Research

Location – Working from home, but ideally based in London

Pays – £8,000 for a fixed six month contract plus expenses

Job Details

Fast Future is a research and consulting firm that works with clients around the world to help them understand, anticipate and respond to the trends, forces and ideas that could shape the competitive landscape over the next 5-20 years. We draw on a range of proven foresight, strategy and creative processes to conduct a range of high impact strategic futures studies. These are designed to help clients develop deep insight into a changing world and build thought leadership positions in the marketplace. These insights are used to help clients define innovative strategies and practical actions to implement them.

We are looking for two interns to join our small and close-knit team for six months, to work on a variety of projects. We are looking for candidates who have a genuine interest in looking at the future, and who consider themselves something of a generalist, having knowledge of a variety of subjects and are up to date on current affairs and technological advancements.

The position will have the following responsibilities:

  • Horizon scanning, research and analysis on a wide array of subjects
  • Produce research briefs, reports and presentations
  • Conducting and recording a number of research interviews
  • Potentially helping to facilitate strategic workshops
  • Contributing to social media activity
  • Sharing internal administrative responsibilities

Necessary Skills:

  • Interest in futures and foresight – although prior experience is not essential
  • Awareness of the latest scientific and technological advances and innovations, and international and domestic political and business issues
  • Excellent communication skills, written and oral
  • Proven research skills
  • Able to manage working remotely and independently
  • An ability to multitask and keep to deadlines
  • Strong attention to detail
  • A high level of computer literacy
  • Must be comfortable using the latest social media and online platforms

There is an opportunity for the position to lead to a full-time post.

Closing date for receipt of applications – November 14th

Please send a CV, covering letter and an example of your written work to David Saer at outlining your suitability for the post.  Website –