Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Hilton’s luxury preference, Celebrity Cruises’ metaverse marketing, and collaboration in the Middle East.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, December 15, and we are live in Dubai for one last day. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

The Middle East has seen an enormous tourism boom in recent months. So what strategies are travel brands operating in the region adopting in the fierce competition to attract visitors? Travel executives speaking at the inaugural Skift Global Forum East in Dubai on Wednesday said industry-wide collaboration is critical in boosting visitor numbers to the Middle East, reports Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons.

Parsons writes Morocco is one destination taking collaboration to heart. Moroccan National Tourism Office CEO Adel El Fakir said, in discussion with Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali, that it worked with both the public and private sector to launch a new tourism campaign. El Fakir added that Morocco opted to use two creative agencies for the campaign instead of one.

In addition, Rob Torres, senior vice president of Expedia Group Media Solutions, said his company wants to help destinations steer travelers to locations other than traditional tourist hotspots. Torres stated travel brands can use Expedia’s data to gather information about additional attractions prospective visitors may be interested in exploring.

Next, Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta emphatically said at Skift Global Forum East on Wednesday that he’s a big fan of the luxury sector. But he acknowledged the company hasn’t made a major luxury push in the Middle East, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

Nassetta, who was interviewed by Skift founder and CEO Ali at the Forum via hologram, said all segments of hospitality are underrepresented in the Middle East. Nassetta added that some emerging economies in the region need to establish public-private partnerships to help develop their tourism infrastructure.

However, he said every market in the Middle East is different, noting that Dubai is a decade ahead of other destinations in the region regarding infrastructure development. Nassetta also highlighted Saudi Arabia as a country — with Hilton’s involvement — that’s made an enormous investment in its travel infrastructure through public-private partnerships.

Finally, cruise line Celebrity Cruises is allowing prospective customers to take virtual tours of its ships prior to booking trips. It’s the first cruise line to run ship tours in the rapidly growing metaverse, a virtual world where people interact with each other via digital means, writes Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes.

Celebrity Cruises just released a metaverse program that enables users to explore a virtual version of Celebrity Beyond, the company’s latest ship, as avatars. All users visiting the digital ship at the same time can interact with each other as well as play games on the deck.

Michael Scheiner, Celebrity Cruises’ chief marketing officer, said the main goal of the virtual tours is to reach audiences who have never sailed with Celebrity Cruises or are new to cruises in general. Dawes writes the company’s use of virtual tours as a marketing tool is in line with a larger trend tourism professionals have noticed. One tourism industry veteran said travelers are increasingly using virtual tours to learn more about a company’s offerings before committing to a trip.

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Tags: celebrity cruises, dubai, hilton, middle east, skift podcast

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