Today's edition of Skift's daily podcast looks closer at extreme luxury adventure trips, hotels' AI labors solution, and Bhutan's push for longer tourist visits.
Skift Daily Briefing Podcast
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, June 23. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
A growing number of affluent travelers are seeking extreme adventures, but are they pushing the boundaries for those popular excursions too far? Travel Experiences Reporter Selene Brophy seeks answers from executives responsible for organizing those trips.
Carl Shephard, co-founder of travel company Insider Expeditions, said safety is always the priority, but added that the industry is providing valuable experiences. He said companies like his should push the boundaries. Virgin Galactic, a long-time Insider Expeditions client, recently took a group of 30 future astronauts on a trip to a remote island centered around a one-minute solar eclipse.
Brophy notes she scheduled interviews for the story before the OceanGate submersible, the Titan, went missing while taking passengers to explore the Titanic wreck. The five passengers on board are believed to have died.
Next, much of the discussion around artificial intelligence in travel has centered around how the technology can help increase bookings. But Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes reports in his Travel Tech Briefing that hotel tech startups are using AI to combat an ongoing labor shortage.
Dawes cites HiJiffy as one tech company that’s gotten a boost from hotels struggling with staffing issues. Founder Tiago Araújo said the startup grew 150 percent during the pandemic due the industry-wide labor shortage, a challenge many hotels still face. The company said its so-called “pre-stay” product is able to quickly answer roughly 80 percent of guest questions about the hotel.
Araújo added most of HiJiffy’s clients are doing well in terms of revenue. But he acknowledged many are having difficulties regarding staffing, which is driving them to automate as many processes as possible.
We end today in Bhutan. The country is lowering its sustainable development fee — used to offset the carbon footprint of tourists — to encourage longer stays, reports Asia Editor Peden Doma Bhutia.
Bhutia writes Bhutanese authorities relied on feedback from the country’s travel executives to develop options for longer stays. Garab Dorji, CEO of travel company Truly Bhutan, said the reduced fee will give tourists an opportunity to explore more of the country. Bhutan’s tourism department estimates the South Asian nation attracted roughly 52,000 tourists between late September 2022 and mid-May. Bhutia adds the country aims to hit pre-pandemic tourism figures by the end of 2024.
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Photo credit: Rendering of a Virgin Galactic aircraft. Roderick Eime / Flickr