Skift Take

Today's edition of Skift's daily podcast looks closer at U.S. tourism recovery, AI gains in travel, and Expedia gaining ground on Booking.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Tuesday, August 8. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

The U.S. expects visitor numbers from some major markets such as Canada and India to exceed pre-Covid levels this year. However, Brand USA CEO Chris Thompson says that progress won’t be enough to make up for the large-scale absence of Chinese visitors, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam. 

Thompson said in an interview with Skift that the U.S. won’t experience a full tourism recovery unless it attracts more Chinese tourists. China represented the U.S.’ largest tourism market prior to the pandemic. Thompson said Beijing’s refusal to lift the ban on overseas group travel for its citizens has impacted visitor numbers to the U.S. He added that West Coast destinations such as Los Angeles have been hit hard by the absence of Chinese travelers. 

Thompson also touched on what Brand USA is doing with the $250 million it received in federal funds to help boost international tourism. The organization used the funding to launch “This Is Where It’s At,” its largest ever single consumer campaign. It’s running in 10 out of Brand USA’s 11 markets, with the exception of China.  

Next, a newly published financial report said that the Expedia Group may be showing resilience against rival Booking.com in the U.S., reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.  

An analysis from global financial services firm BTIG listed reasons why Expedia Group may have blunted Booking.com’s market share gains. Schaal writes Expedia likely saw a faster increase in room nights  than Booking.com. He adds that signs suggest that Expedia outperformed Booking.com in the U.S. He notes that’s important because Booking Holdings sees the U.S. as a relatively untapped market where it has ample room to grow. 

BTIG estimated that 60% of the Expedia Group presence is centered in the U.S. 

Finally, artificial intelligence has fundamentally altered the travel industry in recent years. Associate Editor Rashaad Jorden explains how, using answers provided by Ask Skift, our artificial intelligence chatbot. 

Ask Skift listed four areas where AI has significantly impacted travel, including predicting travel demand and providing personalized customer service. One travel executive said AI will likely uncover signals about travel demand from unlikely sources of information. 

In addition, Jorden reports travel brands are using AI to customize travel itineraries, enabling them to increase customer loyalty. Amazon Web has already used AI to make personalized recommendations for travelers, including suggesting hotels that matched their interests.  

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Tags: artificial intelligence, booking.com, china outbound, Chinese tourists, expedia group, online travel agencies, skift podcast

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