The Philip Wolf I Knew
March 17, 2021
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The Philip Wolf I Knew

Philip’s passing yesterday was a shock for all who knew him, but for me it was extremely personal. My journey with Philip Wolf goes back nearly 30 years and I can state emphatically that Philip fundamentally had a positive impact on my life in countless ways and has had a lasting dramatic impact on the global travel industry.    

As someone who knew Philip beyond his famous stage presence, I knew first-hand of his ability to identify both business and tech trends that would become mainstream often acting as a catalyst to the drive entire travel industry forward by embracing emerging technology and driving innovation.

With a nearly 30-year relationship, my list could be endless on Philip’s influence on my life and the future of travel technology.  Here are just a few points I would like to highlight:

  • After being asked to be a judge at the first Travel Innovation Summit, Philip asked me join him and Bob Offutt in planning, screening, and enhancing the startup competition. We were the core team for many years behind the scenes making everything seem seamless. Every year at the staff party after the Conference, Philip would find Bob and me and grill us stating that we “should blow-up the Innovation Summit and recreate it for the following year”.  This was Philip, never satisfied with past accomplishments and always anxious to innovate.  Working with startups became a key part of my consulting practice and I owe the roots of my expertise to the 12 years working on the Innovation Summit. In fact, in the travel space, other startup competitions, travel startup incubators and accelerators owe a debt of gratitude to Philip for starting the ball rolling with the Innovation Summit.  
  • Philip and I were in Paris back in 2005 (I believe) delivering project results to the CEO of a major TMC.  I remember vividly Philip telling us all “you need to pay attention to Facebook”.  Talk about vision, at that time Facebook was only available on college campuses!
  • His support for his people was unparalleled.  Though I have never been an employee of Phocuswright, Philip’s support of my efforts both on his behalf when doing Phocuswright projects or as an independent consultant showed unrelenting support for his colleagues. This was clear when a specific project went sour, with the client’s behavior contributing to many of the challenges. Once aware of the issue, Philip picked up the phone and told the CEO, “you can’t treat my people that way”.  I felt similar support when my Mom passed away unexpectedly in 2006 just as the Phocuswright Conference wrapped up.  Philip, Carol, and the entire staff went out of their way to get me home quickly to be with my family.  And that’s the thing, I was part (and continue to be part) of the Phocuswright family. That sense of family was a result of Philip’s leadership.

Many industry executives talk about innovation, few live it.  Philip’s entire life was around disrupting the status quo and driving the industry to use technology to improve the travel experience and drive greater industry efficiency. His wisdom, vision and passion will be missed by all.  My life was changed by Philip Wolf and I will never get over losing him at such a young age.