Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks closer at AI at major travel brands, youth-focused African tours, and gaming in the UAE.
Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, September 13. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
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The rise of artificial intelligence has been a major topic of discussion in the travel industry over the past year. So as the theme of this month’s Skift Global Forum is Connection in the Age of AI, what do major travel executives think about booming technology? Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes provides some of their opinions about it.
Dawes cites Airbnb’s Brian Chesky and Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi as two CEOs vocal about the impact of AI on their companies. Chesky said AI would be the driving force between a vastly different Airbnb. Meanwhile, Khosrowshahi said AI could improve user personalization by tracking preferences, such as preferred types of cars.
Dawes adds that executives around travel have spoken about how advancements in AI could change travel search and booking. Priceline and Booking.com have already released Google-powered tools on their respective apps.
Next, the United Arab Emirates has established a gaming authority to regulate its nascent gambling industry, writes Middle East Reporter Josh Corder.
Corder notes the General Commercial Gaming Regulatory Authority will set guidelines for future casinos as well as a potential “Arabian Strip” gambling zone. The country’s media has reported the agency would look to help unlock gaming’s economic potential. The United Arab Emirates could earn roughly $6.6 billion in revenue yearly from gaming, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.
Finally, tour operators are increasingly turning to African adventures to attract young travelers, writes Travel Experiences Reporter Selene Brophy.
Brophy cites Contiki as one company that has significantly boosted its Africa offerings. Contiki, which organizes trips geared largely towards 18-35 year olds, has seen bookings for its Africa tours jump 57% from 2019 levels. Kyle Junkuhn, Contiki’s Operations Lead for Africa, said its itinerary design has been a major factor in its growth. Its guests can bungee jump and zip wire, among other activities, at Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls.