The Digitization of Travel: Part 2 – The Panel
The Digitization of Travel: Part 2 – The Panel

The Digitization of Travel: Part 2 – The Panel

One of the most enjoyable parts of compiling The Digitization of Travel was hearing from the people that weighed-in on the issues. What started as a short piece on the future of travel and the impact technology will have, morphed into something much larger, full of depth and rather comprehensive. The following pages contain the opinions, thoughts and predictions of leaders in our industry from all sides of the business. Thank you to everyone who gave their time, shared input and laid-out the future of the travel industry.

Betty Chan
One of Asia’s leading hotel sales persons, Chan has made a career of leading the way in luxury hotel experiences. She’s worked mostly with the Four Seasons group, logging time with them in Hong Kong, Shanghai and is now the Director of Sales with Four Seasons Resorts Thailand, which includes the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, Koh Samui, Bangkok and Tented Camp at Golden Triangle.

Aaron Frankel
It all started when Aaron, a longtime Bangkok resident, frustrated cartoonist, and soon-to-be-laid-off advertising creative guy, decided to have a bit of fun producing a hand-drawn cartoon-infested map back in 1996 which became known as Groovy Map. Since then things have grown considerably with Groovy titles spanning Asia and a successful series of road maps for Thailand which keep him writing and drawing long into the night.

Ken Fish
As the president and owner of Absolute Travel, it’s Ken’s personal and professional goal to make clients’ most fantastic travel dreams a reality. He’s a highly regarded spokesperson for the travel industry and is regularly featured in trade and consumer publications. In addition to steering the direction of the company, he travels extensively and has taken nearly 100 overseas trips since 1983. He calls New York City home where he lives with his wife and two children.

Mason Florence
New York-born tourism expert Mason Florence relocated to Thailand in 2002 from Japan, where he worked as a correspondent for The Japan Times newspaper and wrote travel guides for Lonely Planet. He currently publishes Bangkok 101 magazine and the Bangkok Art Map (BAM!). He also serves as Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordination Office, which aims to promote six countries along the Mekong River as a single travel destination. There are few people better connected to travel in SE Asia than Mason.

Greg Jorgensen
Greg hails from a wee town in Canada that’s hard to pronounce and even harder to remember. After coming to Bangkok on a vacation in 2001, he somehow forgot to leave, and has been there ever since. In the ensuing years he’s worked as a teacher, corporate trainer, tour guide, stand-up comedian and peon in the film industry. He regularly contributes pieces about travel to in-flight magazines like Fah Thai, writes for and maintains a much-followed blog, Greg to Differ.

Lester Ledesma
Travel photojournalist Lester Ledesma has written and photographed Southeast Asia for over ten years, his work appearing in countless international books and magazines. A native of the Philippines, he shoots the region with the familiarity of home, and connects with his subjects on a deeply personal level. He is a two-time winner of the coveted PATA Gold Award for Photography and also the 2006 ATTA Silver Medalist and the 2002 ASEANTA Awardee for Excellence in Travel Photography.

David Lees
An Englishman, David spent most of his professional life selecting the furniture and designing interiors for leading hotels throughout Asia. When it came time for retirement, home became a business as he and his wife converted their gorgeous property, originally built in 1942, into a boutique hotel. Ariyasom Villa has quickly become one of Bangkok’s most popular and praised properties. You can find David most days, elbow-deep in flour, baking in their kitchen.

Mitchell Lerner
A native of Toronto, Mitchell has been the Principal Company Director of Westcoast Connection since 1994. As a leader in experiential student travel with a purpose, he develops community service programs for their trips around the world, heads-up trip development, trains their ground team and is constantly in pursuit of the next big thing.

Greg Michaels
Greg is one of the today’s great explorers. The founder of travel company Earth Cubed, he’s been featured in Outside Magazine for his passion of seeking remote points called ‘confluences’. A former employee of NASA, he speaks Mandarin, Russian, has lived in China, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Germany, has worked for Imaginative Traveller and is a big fan of technology.

Leslie Overton
As Absolute Travel’s General Manager, Leslie works, breathes and lives her passion each and every day. From their offices in New York City, she not only manages a dynamic team but has been recognized for her work, being named Conde Nast Traveler’s Top Travel Specialist in Family Travel: Asia, for the last 4 years. She’s also a go-to person for Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Forbes, Market News International, MSNBC Today Travel, and The New York Times when they want the inside scoop on travel.

Trevor Ranges
Raised in Hawaii, mostly on waves, Trevor originally headed to the Far East to teach high-level university entrance exam techniques with the Princeton Review. He then pursued writing seriously, contributing for many years to the Fodor’s Thailand and Laos guidebooks. His love for travel saw him work on the third edition of the National Geographic Traveler Thailand book and head-up the first edition of their Cambodia guidebook. He’s currently working on Cambodia’s first all-digital, interactive guide for mobile devices.

John Roberts
After attaining a Materials Science and Engineering Degree at Bath University in the UK, John decided he needed some real excitement and set out across the world. Working mostly in the outdoors he’s lived and worked in the US state of Texas, northern Australia, with tigers and elephants in Nepal and is now the Director of Elephants for the Anantara Resort in Thailand’s Golden Triangle. You can follow his musings on his official blog Elephant Tails.

Tim Russell
Originally from England, Tim has always had the travel bug. He’s worked all over the globe in a myriad of industries. He was France’s first-ever English postman, worked with JAC Travel – one of the UK’s leading inbound tour operators, spent time with an IT firm, 4-star hotel, and is now the founder and creative brains behind Come & Go Vietnam’s products, marketing and web presence. A passionate advocate of tourism in Vietnam, he also serves on the Vietnam Business Forum’s Tourism Working Group.

Alexis Suriname
Born an expat, Alexis grew up and lived mostly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. He originally found his way to Cambodia with Pharmacists Without Borders, then went to Burma with Doctors of the World. His first foray in the tourism industry was Elsewhere, a hip poolside lounge which he launched in Phnom Penh in 2004. Since then he’s gone on to open a series of charming boutique hotels, the Pavilion, Kabiki, Blue Lime, 240, the Plantation and a wine bar, the Chinese House.

Jason Williams
The founder of bicycle tour company Grasshopper Adventures, Jason has a long association with cycling, having fallen off his first bike at age four. It wasn’t until after university he finally managed to leave his homeland of Australia to explore the world on two wheels. He’s since ridden tens of thousands of kilometers, mostly in Asia, the place he now calls home.

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