As we finalise preparations for the upcoming ITIC Global conference in Madrid, we have been catching up with the ITIC Global committee, and are pleased to share their views on the return of international travel ahead of the conference. We recently spoke with ITIC committee member and ITIJ’s new editor, Mandy Langfield, about what ITIC Global has in store for readers and a long-awaited return to Madrid plus ITIC Chairman and ITIJ’s Editor-in-chief Ian Cameron popped in with his thoughts on the future.
What are you most looking forward to about ITIC Global’s return?
From my point of view, I cannot wait to get back into face-to-face business meetings again, and ITIC is the perfect opportunity to do them. I didn’t realise how much I missed catching up with all of ITIJ’s readers and contributors during the events – until we weren’t holding them anymore! The opportunity to network with people before the conference officially begins, as well as the chance to explore learning opportunities during the actual sessions, is invaluable to the ITIJ editorial team.
Listening to the experts in travel health risk management has always been key for ITIC, and it seems like they had it right all along – it wasn’t going to be Ebola that stopped the world turning, it was going to be a coronavirus. I remember Dr Charlie Easmonn telling us that this was going to be the case in Venice in 2014! This year, we have Dr Vanya Gant speaking from UCL Hospital, who is working on new vaccinations against Covid to stop the variants from rampaging their way through the world. It’ll be a fascinating discussion from him and his fellow travel health experts in Madrid.
What are your top agenda highlights?
ITIJ has covered – at great length – how the travel insurance and assistance sector has dealt with Covid-19, but there is a session coming up at ITIC Global about what it has learned from the pandemic, and how it is going to move forwards, which I think will be a great session, with a lot of talking points.
We couldn’t have an ITIC without a session on fraud, of course, so it’ll be great to hear from our international insurance fraud detectives, who are going to share their insights as to the risks of medical provider fraud and abusive billing practices. With budgets stretched across healthcare systems, and no travellers to speak of, are medical providers going to get creative with their bills?
It would be remiss of the ITIC committee to have built an agenda without considering the ongoing impact of insurtech on the travel insurance sector. With few customers in sight, many insurers spent their time investing in innovation and new solutions aimed at meeting customer needs in this digital age. There’ll be a great session on how insurtech continues to shape the new landscape of travel insurance.
As a team, we have a sense of ITIC Madrid – at last! – as plans have been in the works since 2019! How do you feel about the return of business travel to this long-awaited destination?
On a personal note, I am desperate to travel again, and in particular to Madrid. It holds a very special place in my heart, as I studied there for a year during my degree. I have very fond memories of hazy afternoons spent in the Parque del Buen Retiro, and wandering around the backstreets in areas of the city that are probably almost entirely gentrified now, but certainly weren’t then!
Getting back into the swing of business travel is going to be weird, for sure, and I’m not looking forward enormously to all the testing and paperwork that is going to be involved. However, what I am looking forward to is looking out at a roomful of peers and colleagues in the travel insurance sector, all of whom are keen to share insights and information, and network to their heart’s content (maybe with a cold San Miguel!).
Mandy Langfield – Managing Editor
Over the past 10 years, she has written extensively on the topic of international travel and health insurance, as well as medical assistance provision and air medical transportation.
Mandy is a member of the ITIC committee, and can also be found moderating discussions on stage during the conference.
Next up, Ian Cameron – ITIJ’s Editor-in-chief and ITIC Chairman
Let’s start by looking backwards – what’s been the most difficult part of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic for you on a personal and business level?
Personally difficult? Liverpool being knocked out of the Champions league by Atletico Madrid on the eve of the first global lockdown. Then there was having no football anywhere (soccer for those of a North American persuasion) for months. It was like having to endure a perpetual cricket season (please don’t ask ‘what’s cricket’?)
Business difficult? We’re part and parcel of international travel. How about ‘it’s all been a f nightmare’, actually.
Will the world ever be the same again, do you think?
I hope so. The price of drink has skyrocketed during the pandemic … or is it just that I’m buying more?
Anyway, I‘m tired of seeing all those big spiders climbing the walls around me. There seem to be more of them now and they’re a lot bigger. So, a return to the previous normal with just elephants on the ceiling, would be welcome.
What are you most looking forward to about ITIC Global this year?
I always look forward to returning to Madrid, where I once lived. And I understand that the arrest warrant for me that they issued is no longer valid, which is encouraging.
Anything particular on the agenda that you’re looking forward to moderating?
Vanya Gant’s presentation on infectious diseases and how we prepare for the next pandemic. I’m always up for something to do with the next bout of impending doom.
What are your hopes for the future of ITIC and ITIJ?
Well with the advent of space tourism, what about an ITIC conference on Mars, and perhaps we could have ITIJ’s news beamed directly into everyone’s brains…
Ian Cameron – ITIC Chairman and ITIJ Editor-in-chief
Ian has worked in the international travel sector for over 30 years. He created the ITIC series of events as a networking destination for the myriad of sectors that work together to assist global travellers and ITIJ to keep attendees connected year-round.
Ian chairs the ITIC committee and can be found moderating discussions on stage during the conference.
ITIC Global is an annual gathering of the travel and health insurance community. It’s where you can connect with partners and colleagues, hear from insightful speakers and join discussions that shape the future of our industry. ITIC Global 2021 is taking place in Madrid, Spain 31 October – 4 November, and marks our return to face-to-face business networking after an 18-month hiatus.
Stay connected and join our conversation #ITICGlobal