Google, Etihad, and regional marketing experts join forces to explore new opportunities for airlines to connect with customers in the digital age

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 – BELGRADE, SERBIA – The Southeast Europe Aviation Summit (SEAS) Organizing Committee today announced the addition of a new panel to the summit, which will be held in Belgrade from December 13-14, 2016.

The panel, Marketing and Sales for Connected Travelers, will take place on Day 1 of SEAS 2016 starting at 17:30, focusing on new challenges and opportunities for internet airline marketing.

“With more than a third of sales in the aviation industry now generated through direct online channels, this latest panel will explore how airlines can better serve travelers using mobile, video and social media – focusing on each element of the connected customer’s online travel journey,” said Petar Vojinovic, Chair of the SEAS Organizing Committee and Chief Executive Officer of the summit’s host, Tango Six Events.

Direct online sales are expected to grow faster than any other distribution channel for airlines in the next four years. According to a study released jointly this month by Strategy& and Google, customer behavior is forcing airlines to adapt their business models. Today’s travelers are increasingly looking online to search and book, using multiple devices, and turning to social media channels to share their experiences, the study found.

The new SEAS panel announced today will be moderated by Google’s Ivan Jakovljevic, who leads the travel, finance, and government sectors for Google in the Middle East and North Africa region. He works with top travel organizations, financial institutions, and government entities to create innovative, impactful digital marketing and advertising solutions.

Confirmed panel speakers include Justin Warby, Vice President of Direct Sales for Etihad Airways; Ivan Rečević, Co-owner and Principal Consultant at Gaia Consulting; and Veljko Ristic, Head of Direct Sales for Air Serbia. Rečević is a recognized marketing technologist and digital analytics expert specializing in business problem solving, while Ristic is an award-winning e-commerce professional with more than a decade of experience across industries and markets.

Google estimates that 31% of leisure travelers and 53% of business travelers have booked travel on a smartphone. In Serbia, more than 40% of all Google searches happen on a mobile device.