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How AI Will Disrupt the Travel Industry
| May 21, 2019
From the bespoke, seasoned traveler to the first time visitor, Access Italy’s first-hand, extensive knowledge of the region offers a curated approach to discovering Italy through a luxe yet authentic lens.
Article | April 13, 2020
Just over a month ago, many of us sat in our offices, surrounded by colleagues, engaged in deep discussions about how best to leverage the increasing demand in travel this year. As per the World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) forecasts from earlier this year, international tourist arrivals were expected to grow by 4% in 2020, which is not as great as the growth seen in 2017 (7%) and 2018 (6%), but it was still enough to continue fueling the tourism industry, which contributes to about 10.4% of the global GDP and approximately 319 million jobs. We were blissfully unaware of the looming threat of the COVID-19 global pandemic. In fact, several parts of the world failed to take notice of this crown-shaped virus that was about to bring everything to a grinding halt, until March 11, when the World Health Organization officially announced it as a pandemic.
Controlling how employees spend company money on travel has been one of the biggest historic challenges for finance teams. Most company spend is governed by purchase orders, with payments made in relation to specific invoices from the company’s own bank. The data is available transparent and can be analyzed to spot any inconsistencies. But controlling travel spend, which is most company’s largest discretionary spend area, is much harder.
Employees increasingly organize their own travel, empowered by corporate self-booking tools for search, booking, and payment. This can help with visibility, particularly if the corporate uses lodge or virtual cards to pay. However, pre-trip spend like air and hotel bookings only represent 50-60% of the money spent on travel. What about the rest?
During Q4 2019 I had multiple conversations with companies from the hospitality, retail and banking sectors that were either launching or redefining their loyalty programs. In all cases, companies were looking to provide greater value to their members and to stand out from the crowd of meaningless programs. As we all know, things have changed, and plans have been by more urgent matters.There is, however, a tremendous opportunity right now for loyalty programs to step up during the ongoing coronavirus crisis and show why being a member makes a difference.
Travel has seen an incredible digital transformation over the last decade. Technologies like AI and Mobile have produced large scale disruption. With the number of aspirant travelers continuously increasing and millennials outrightly discarding the concept of work-life balance, the tourism industry is expected to continue to evolve in 2020. The overall paradigm shift in the travel arena is a result of the confluence of changing mindset and varying perception across various markets.
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