- Advances in artificial intelligence are facilitating trip planning for travellers, as well as the automation of refunds, back-office processes and content creation
- Industry leaders are supporting responsible travel through financial backing for ESG initiatives, transparent data reporting and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)
- Plug and Play also highlighted the influencer economy, fintech, payments and operational efficiency as key drivers of investment on the ATM Travel Tech Stage
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 4 May 2023: Generative artificial intelligence (AI) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities are attracting the highest levels of investment in travel technology at present, according to innovation specialist, Plug and Play. Experts from the Silicon Valley-headquartered firm shared a range of insights into the latest investment trends on the Travel Tech Stage at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2023, which will conclude today at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).
Speaking on the third day of the show, innovation specialists explored how travel startups are being affected by macroeconomic headwinds and fears of a global recession as part of the ‘Investment Trends Leading Travel Tech’ session.
Kristie Choi, Early Stage Tech Investor at Plug and Play, noted that venture capital (VC) investment witnessed a “dramatic pullback” in the second half of 2022, a trend that continued into Q1 2023. “While this looks pretty scary, there are still billions of dollars of dry powder out there to be gained,” she told attendees. “Travel tech round dynamics tend to follow similar patterns as the wider tech market, and we are seeing an increased focus on profitability and cash efficiency in this segment.”
Choi said that the travel sector was leading the curve in terms of generative AI investment and adoption. This technology is being leveraged to enhance the customer experience by facilitating trip planning, automating refunds and back-office processes, and supporting content creation. ESG is also a major focus for the travel technology sector, she explained, with sustained investments in transparent data reporting and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) serving to bolster the growth of responsible tourism. The influencer economy, meanwhile, is “driving business away” from online travel agencies (OTAs), according to Choi, as companies look to attract the Gen Z market by integrating direct booking into the channels of content creators.
Following Choi’s presentation, Mike Sung, Director, Partner Success – Travel & Hospitality at Plug and Play, joined Natalie Seatter, Chief Product Officer at OAG on the ATM Travel Tech Stage for a conversation about travel technology investment trends.
Speaking on the growing importance of artificial intelligence to the tourism industry, Sung noted: “It’s going to be very interesting to see how generative AI is leveraged, especially among travel suppliers in the metaverse. There’s a lot of experimentation happening in the metaverse, and for generative AI, it’s not just about text. It’s also about audio, video and graphics. I think this technology is going to ramp up the velocity of [Web3] solutions, especially for travel and hospitality.”
Commenting on the need for investment in data transparency, Seatter said: “The big elephant in the room is the large cloud-based data warehouses [the industry] is using to power platforms. It’s either really hard to understand the carbon-emission cost of these platforms or no one wants to tell you how big it is – or maybe it’s a bit of both. I think that’s certainly one of our challenges.”
The day-three session followed the ‘Plug and Play: Sustainable Tech – Startups Pitch Battle’ on day two of ATM 2023, which saw six new ventures compete for a range of industry support and data. Sustainable commercial food waste solutions company, Winnow, beat off stiff competition from CarbonClick, Eilago, Hotelverse, OACIS Middle East Limited LLC and Thrust Carbon to be crowned this year’s winner.
The 30th edition of ATM is taking place as part of Arabian Travel Week (1-10 May 2023), a festival of events dedicated to enabling industry professionals from all over the world to collaborate and capitalise on market opportunities through exhibitions, conferences, breakfast briefings, awards, product launches and networking events.
Those attending ATM 2023 in person can get involved in the conversation online by using the hashtag #ATMDubai when posting on social media channels.
ATM 2023 is being held in conjunction with Dubai World Trade Centre, and its strategic partners include Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) as the Destination Partner, Emirates as the Official Airline Partner, IHG Hotels & Resorts as the Official Hotel Partner, and Al Rais Travel as the Official DMC Partner.
The latest ATM news stories are available at https://hub.wtm.com/category/press/atm-press-releases/.
For more information, log on to wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html
About Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now in its 30th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2022 attracted over 24,000 visitors and hosted over 31,000 participants including 1,600 exhibitors and attendees from 151 countries, across 10 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai
Next in-person event: Monday 1 to Thursday 4 May 2023, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai https://www.wtm.com/atm/en-gb.html
About Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2023. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, ITIC, GBTA Business Travel Forums, as well as ATM Travel Tech. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country forums. https://www.wtm.com/arabian-travel-week/en-gb.html
About RX (Reed Exhibitions)
RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face-to-face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. www.rxglobal.com
RELX About RELX
RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*
*Note: Current market capitalisation can be found at http://www.relx.com/investors
World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents. The events are:
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. The show facilitates business connections for the global (leisure) travel community. Senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating travel industry contracts. Next live event: Monday 6 to 8 November 2023 at ExCel London http://london.wtm.com/
WTM Latin America takes place annually in the city of São Paulo and attracts around 20,000 tourism professionals during the three-day event. The event offers qualified content together with networking and business opportunities. In this its ninth edition – there have been eight face-to-face events along with a 100% virtual one, which was held in 2021 – WTM Latin America continued to focus on effective business generation and achieved the advance booking of six thousand meetings that were held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors in 2022. Next event: Tuesday 4 to Thursday 6 April 2023 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil http://latinamerica.wtm.com/
WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2022, WTM Africa facilitated more than 7 thousand unique pre-scheduled appointments, an increase of more than 7% compared to 2019 and welcomed more than 6 thousand visitors (unaudited), the same number as in 2019.
Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town http://africa.wtm.com/
About ATW Connect: Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.
WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub. https://hub.wtm.com/