Founder, Digital Innovation Asia
Specializing in distribution, digital marketing, social media, and marketing strategy consulting for the global travel and tourism industry, Jens Thraenhart has over 20 years of international hospitality marketing and operations experience, spanning positions in rooms and food and beverage operations, revenue management, strategic planning, and e-business for such companies such as Four Seasons, Ian Schrager Hotels, Kempinski Hotels, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and Marriott International.
Jens Thraenhart is founder of Digital Innovation Asia (DIA), an initiative strategically aligned with PATA, and endorsed by the UNWTO, ASEAN, as well as National Tourism Organizations in Asia, promoting excellence and knowledge sharing when it comes to leveraging digital, social, and mobile in the travel and tourism industry in Asia Pacific, including innovative initiatives such as the E-Tourism Asia Boot Camps, DIA Awards, Blogger Match-Up, and Digital Aid Asia.
In 2014, Jens Thraenhart was appointed by the tourism ministries of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and China (Yunnan and Guanxi) to head of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) as its Executive Director. The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) is an inter-governmental organization to promote the Mekong region as a single tourism destination, and foster responsible tourism development in the Greater Mekong Subregion.
He also founded China Travel Trends, the publisher of the “Essential China Travel Trends” book and the ChinaTravelTrends.com resource website, and co-founded award-winning travel technology and digital marketing firm Dragon Trail in 2009, helping travel brands develop a China presence leveraging social media, and digital marketing. In 2011, Dragon Trail launched an innovative new travel website Tripshow.com, aggregating visual content posted by Chinese travelers on Chinese social media platforms.
A pioneer when it comes to online travel, he had his first online travel start-up in 1995, worked in Marriott’s e-commerce department back in 1998, and co-founded MyLeisureTime.com in 1999 (backed by Lehman Brothers), as well as WOW.travel back in 2001. As a global e-tourism expert, he has led marketing and Internet strategy teams with the Canadian Tourism Commission and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. Being recognized with multiple awards for website development and online marketing, he has consulted for many global companies in the areas of digital, social media, CRM, strategic marketing, distribution, and China market entry. In 1994, he created the Cesar Ritz Network Society, which became the Global Alumni Association of Cesar Ritz Colleges in Switzerland, Australia, and the US, by initiating one of the first online hotel school alumni system in the world. In 2004, he initiated the HSMAI Digital Marketing Special Interest Group which he chaired, and founded the HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference. While at the Canadian Tourism Commission, he founded the Canada-e-Connect Strategy Conference (2007), the Canadian e-Tourism Awards (2007), the Canadian e-Tourism Council (2006), and co-founded the Online Revealed Canada Conference (2006). He developed various other e-tourism events, including the Arab Online Marketing Conference (Egypt, 2008), and E-Tourism Asia (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand – 2011-2013). Passionate about story-telling, he co-founded the Tips From The T-List book and blogging community (2007), and created Blogger Match-Up (2013), an innovative blogger outreach model to bring top digital self publishers and influential citizen journalists to Asia and match them up with travel and tourism organizations.
Educated at Cornell University with an MBA-accredited Masters of Management in Hospitality, and a joint Bachelor of Science in International Hospitality Management from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University Center ‘Cesar Ritz’ at Brig, Switzerland, Mr. Thraenhart was recognized as one of the travel industry’s top 100 rising stars by Travel Agent Magazine in 2003, was listed as one of HSMAI’s Top 25 Most Extraordinary Sales and Marketing Minds in Hospitality and Travel in 2004 and 2005, and was named as one of the Top 20 Most Extraordinary Minds in European Travel and Hospitality in 2014. With a passion for sustainable tourism, he has been an expert consultant for UNWTO (in 2012 on a mission in DPRK/North Korea), PATA, and Mekong Tourism on how to leverage social media and digital marketing for capacity building and responsible tourism development, especially in developing countries, where he helped conceptualize the Travel Leaders Symposium on Sustainable Tourism, Myanmar (Bagan/Myanmar, 2011). A World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Affiliate Member, he has served on various boards, including PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association), HSMAI (Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International) and IFITT (International Federation for IT and Travel & Tourism), and is on the judging panel of the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards. As founding Chair of PATA China, he created the Annual China Responsible Tourism Forum & Awards in 2011. He is an avid blogger, author, consultant, frequent speaker at industry conferences, and has been strategic advisor to the CEOs of PATA and Mekong Tourism.
A dual citizen of Germany and Canada, Jens now lives in Bangkok/Thailand.
Note: to access a short bio and high-resolution photos, please visit: http://www.digitalinnovationasia.com/jens-thraenhart-bio/