Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Hilton’s AI hopes, Jumeirah’s expansion, and tours tech in Southeast Asia.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, March 30. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Hilton is looking at ways it can utilize the advances in artificial intelligence to adapt to travelers’ changing needs. So the company has been testing new features that will enable it to deeply personalize guest bookings and stays, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.
Chief Commercial Officer Chris Silcock said at the Skift Future of Lodging Forum in London on Wednesday that Hilton is testing out packages with features like pre-booked meals and parking. He told Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill that Hilton wants to perfect those features first before distributing them to partners such as Booking.com and Expedia. Silcock added that knowing what amenities a guest prefers will help Hilton create what he described as powerful personalization.
Next, United Arab Emirates-based luxury hospitality company Jumeirah Hotels is booming in the Middle East, with plans to open several properties throughout the region. That growth is pushing the company to expand further — especially in Europe, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.
Jumeirah Group CEO Katerina Giannouka said at the Forum on Wednesday that it’s keen to invest in more properties in Europe. Jumeirah has five European hotels in its portfolio, having recently acquired Swiss luxury hotel Le Richemond. Giannouka also told Skift President Carolyn Kremins that Jumeirah has plans to grow its portfolio in Asia and the Americas.
Giannouka added that Jumeirah has seen a 25 percent increase in demand from sub-Saharan Africa.
Finally, the tours and activities sector in Southeast Asia is widely considered to be lagging in its adoption of technology, contrary to many people’s perception of a largely tech powered region. So recent tech upgrades are a godsend for companies eager to capitalize on the sector’s enormous popularity in Asia, reports Asia Editor Bhutia.
Bhutia cities BeMyGuest, a distribution platform for Southeast Asian tours and activities operators, as one company that’s helped boost the sector. BeMyGuest has expanded its offerings to include a booking system and translation services. CEO Blanca Menchacha said the pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology, adding the recovery has been much faster for companies that started using new programs during the pandemic. Roughly 80 percent of Southeast Asia’s tours and activities sector is offline.
Meanwhile, GoCity, the world’s largest sightseeing pass company, is also working to digitize the tours and activities sector. GoCity, which entered the Southeast Asian market in 2018, is focused on developing a booking system that Bhutia writes would help tours and activities operators improve their customer experience.
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