Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Tripadvisor's AI worries, targeting older travelers, and Intrepid's big animal welfare decision.
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, February 16. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Tripadvisor CEO Matthew Goldberg said on Wednesday his company aims to leverage its vast amount of user reviews and data to build more direct relationships with consumers. Executive Editor Dennis Schaal reports that to do so Tripadvisor will have to deal with the rise of generative artificial intelligence, a form of technology he writes is well-suited for creating travel itineraries.
Goldberg said during Tripadvisor’s fourth quarter earnings call that he expects generative AI to be ubiquitous. Although Schaal writes it’s uncertain if Tripadvisor will be able to unleash truly unique products, Goldberg expressed confidence that Tripadvisor could use the technology, which includes the creation of images, audio and video, to develop more personalized experiences for travelers.
Goldberg acknowledged though, that Tripadvisor has had trouble executing its plans in the past. And he said he was uncertain of any long-term implications of generative AI sourcing Tripadvisor’s reviews, which Schaal writes could remove the need for travelers to consult Tripadvisor.
We turn next to the challenges facing the growing share of older travelers. Despite their significant clout, Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam writes the travel industry is unprepared to serve members of the lucrative group.
As people older than 65 are the world’s fastest growing age demographic, Habtemariam writes that tourism businesses will have to address their needs. An executive at tour operator Kensington Tours said older travelers may experience difficulties with hot weather and rough terrains. In addition, people with disabilities make up a large portion of older travelers. Habtemariam notes many hotels aren’t friendly to guests who need mobility support such as canes and wheelchairs.
Meanwhile, Alvaro Silberstein, co-founder of online travel agency Wheel the World, praised the cruise industry for taking steps to better accommodate older travelers. He said cruise ship rooms and facilities tend to be highly accessible to seniors and travelers with disabilities.
Finally, Intrepid Travel, one of the world’s largest tour operators, has stopped running tours that don’t align with its animal welfare policies, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Selene Brophy.
Brophy reports Intrepid reached the decision after having examined the more than 140 wildlife tours in its portfolio. One of the tours Intrepid ended was a Tasmanian Devil Zoo experience in Australia that included showtime feedings. Brophy notes the tour didn’t adhere to Intrepid’s guidelines calling for animals to have limited human interaction.
Intrepid’s Americas President Matt Berna said he believes many travel companies have failed to develop animal welfare policies. A recent report by animal rights organization World Animal Protection called out several travel brands for exploiting wildlife for entertainment.
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