Skift Take

Most companies have resisted saying that AI could displace jobs. Mondee is being very clear about it.

Mondee, the booking platform for travel agents, cut roughly 15 jobs from its marketing team late last year, including its chief marketing officer.  

AI is handling much of the work that this team did, and about six contract workers based in India are supplementing the rest, according to Orestes Fintiklis, vice chairman for Mondee.

“They are being replaced by AI and some outsourced external services in India,” Fintiklis told Skift. “And we can do that at a fraction of the cost. That team of 15 people was costing … a very high amount of capital.”

The cut staff members were hired primarily between March and November of 2023 to advance a new strategy of establishing partnerships with social media influencers, who can receive a commission if followers use the Mondee platform to book travel. After an analysis late last year, Mondee found that it would be more cost efficient to leverage AI more heavily.

“The incremental value brought by these teams relative to the cost was not justified,” Fintiklis said.

“Especially if you’re doing commodities and analytics, you don’t need people anymore to do that. You need one person instead of 10 — and AI.”

Mondee has about 1,300 employees, and more than 700 of them are based in India. That includes marketing staff focused on Mondee’s core business of providing software to travel agents. Between 60% and 70% of revenue comes from the core business, Fintiklis said.

The changes did not affect the core marketing team because its strategy is much more complex, making it less susceptible to AI, he said.

But, he thinks that AI could be more involved with the core marketing business in the next year or two. 

Miten Mehta, who joined Mondee in July as the chief of AI solutions, has taken a second role as the company’s new CMO to lead those changes.

“And that’s why the new CMO is an AI guy,” Fintiklis said.

Mondee’s AI Investment

Mondee is heavily focused on implementing AI into much of its business. In November, it acquired AI company Purplegrids with plans to improve its AI travel assistant and integrate AI throughout the company, including back-office work like sales and marketing.

Last July, Mondee released an upgraded version of its travel booking platform, which is integrated with generative AI and includes a chatbot called Abhi. 

Fintiklis and other experts agree that these types of changes, particularly in marketing, are likely to continue industry-wide. 

“You will be seeing that across the board. I don’t think this is a Mondee-specific kind of event,” he said.

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Tags: artificial intelligence, layoffs, mondee, the prompt

Photo credit: Mondee has cut its chief marketing officer and multiple staff. Ross Parmly / Unsplash

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