Travel leaders reveal things keeping them awake at night

Travel leaders reveal things keeping them awake at night

Leaders share their biggest fears ahead of Phocuswright Europe 2024

Ahead of Phocuswright Europe in Barcelona on June 10-12, travel leaders have shared the top four trends that are keeping them awake at night in 2024.

Nearly 1,000 representatives from companies across the travel industry are expected to attend Phocuswright Europe this year. 

The event itself will offer insights and networking opportunities amidst the dynamic backdrop of the recent travel industry boom. 

Topics will include popular themes such as AI and its implications for the travel industry, the evolution of rail, sustainability, and changes in business travel.

It found that four main areas keep them up at night. The impact of travel on the environment and mass tourism is what keeps Eric La Bonnardière, President of Evaneos, up at night. 

He said: “Emblematic places degraded by exposure to mass tourism, tourism revenues that do not benefit local populations and behaviors that do not respect the planet... These are the issues that the tourism sector needs to tackle head-on. 

"Firstly, it is essential to establish a consensus on key objectives. Secondly, AI can be seen as a means of moving towards more sustainable tourism, as well as improving customer experience, responsiveness, personalization and affinity. 

"To find out how best to use it, Evaneos has set up a dedicated team, called Platform IA, to meet with each department within the company and brainstorm use cases.”

Henrik Kjellberg, CEO of Awaze, the largest managed vacation rentals and holiday resorts business in Europe, added: “I worry about the impact of travel on the environment [but] I am glad to be part of a travel segment which typically produces 80% less CO2 emissions than when people fly.”

Keeping up with the pace of time is another area for worry. Chris Hemmeter, managing director of Thayer Ventures, an investor in early-stage travel tech, frets that time is moving too fast. 

“[What keeps me up at night is] the uncertain variable of time," he said.

"Will travel tech entrepreneurs have enough time to pressure test their visions and will capital market cycles drive renewed funding momentum in time to sustain the most promising innovations."

And will travel suppliers invest sufficient time into solving their technical debt and into supporting the start-up ecosystem.  We need an industry that enables innovators to thrive rather than one that produces roadblocks to entrepreneurship.”

A natural worry is the threat of artificial intelligence on privacy. Gee Mann, CEO of Travlr ID, said: “Privacy keeps me up at night! The whole AI frenzy means everyone is testing new approaches which is great to see, however, my personal information and personas are being shared and tested in places I have no view of. 

"Furthermore, those same models can be reverse-engineered to extract the data it was trained on or fed. This is a new territory, and frankly, the required frameworks and compliance have not caught up.”

Finally, some worry that technology could replace human contact. Avi Meir, co-founder and CEO at Travelperk, is afraid that technology could become destructive for humanity. 

He said: “Technology tries to simulate human contact, but it could be very destructive for humanity if used as a complete replacement for in-person connection. 

"Covid forced us to be isolated from colleagues and what’s clear now are the negative business implications of teams not spending regular time together. 

"Those starting their careers struggle to learn from home, teams are unable to find cohesion online, virtual brainstorming sucks - and when you’re presenting, everyone is nodding on the call whilst doing something else.  

"A world where humanity is confined to a virtual reality is a culture in decline. We must keep connecting with each other in real life to thrive.”

Phocuswright has revealed Spain is experiencing among the highest year-over-year gross booking gains across all major European travel markets.

The research will be published later this month.