Seven big disruptors for 2019
Women in Travel — Focus on the future
Over the past year, Canadian Travel Press’ Women In Travel series has featured some remarkable individuals who impact the industry, both in Canada and around the world. In the first of a two-part end-of-the-year roundup article, some of the experts previously profiled in the section reveal what they think will disrupt the travel industry in 2019.
Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com
“There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and speech recognition. For 2019, we can expect to see these tech disruptors offering practical solutions for travellers. Keyless room-access with your phone, real-time luggage tracking through mobile apps, and robotic concierges with the ability to communicate with guests in their mother tongue, are just a few of the innovations that will provide convenience and peace of mind to travellers.”
Kelly Galaski, director of global programs, Planeterra
“The concept of giving back through travel will continue to evolve, thinking beyond voluntourism since controversies around ineffective volunteering and potentially harmful volunteering are starting to pop up in mainstream media. People are wanting to know how they can support in other ways.
With the conversations on social media about Child Welfare in travel and how well-intentioned actions like giving items directly to children while travelling, visiting orphanages and school classrooms, can be harmful over the long term, it seems more people are thinking more about how their actions may be benefiting or impacting negatively, the destinations they visit.
The harmful effects of these previously accepted activities are being brought to light, and people will increasingly change their behaviours to more positive ways of giving back, such as supporting social enterprises that provide economic opportunities to mothers and families, thereby supporting children, or supporting efforts via donations to reputable organizations that focus on skills training for youth or keeping children with families, knowing their support is having long-term positive impacts.”
Adrienne Lee, director of programs & partnerships, Tourism Cares
“2018 saw the tipping point and recognition of how unnecessary plastic straws were for our industry and across the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries as a whole. I think (and hope!) the big disruptor for the travel industry in 2019 will be the commitment and phasing out of one-time use plastics and plastic water bottles which would make a huge environmental impact worldwide.”
Ulla Hefel Böhler, CEO, Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold
“The travel industry’s biggest disruptor for 2019 will continue to be technology, as advancements further streamline travel advisor experiences for the better. Developments with artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are evolving incredibly fast.
Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold are embracing the change to enhance both guest and advisor experiences by using AI to increase personalization of website experiences based on user interest.
As well, the growth of e-learning for agents continues to be a useful tool with Insight Vacations’ Insight Specialist platform, as it provides access to online training regardless of their location.”
Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways
“As the industry continues to grow, travellers are being presented with more options than ever before. With increasing competition comes the need for companies to think innovatively and stand out. We’re staying ahead of the curve at AmaWaterways with our commitment to personalization. We include so many excursions options – around 20 per seven-night cruises, including hiking and biking activities – allowing guests the opportunity to experience every destination exactly how they want.
The introduction of the revolutionary AmaMagna will, I feel, be a disruptor itself because of the new ways it will let travellers experience river cruising and be particularly attractive to traditional ocean cruisers looking for more luxury in a small ship environment. This ship will be twice the width of traditional European river cruise ships, allowing for more spacious accommodations, and feature more unique dining and leisure options on board.”
Jaclyn Leibl-Cote, president, Collette
“We’re always keeping an eye out for new additions to the travel market, whether they compete with us directly or indirectly. Companies that make travel convenient continue to invest in technology and additional resources to ease the burden for travellers, and will account for some market share, but we know that the human element of having a tour manager by their side continues to be such a major contributor to the market. We’re excited for all that is to come in 2019.”
Carolyne Doyon, senior vice president, Canada and Mexico, Club Med
“Offering a new location, untouched by tourism, is highly sought after by avid travellers. By providing a new, undiscovered getaway like the new Club Med Miches Playa Esmerelda, guests are able to experience a destination in its most organic state and be the first to explore the scenery. Finding these hidden gems will be a major disruptor in the 2019 travel year, and we’re thrilled to be a part of this movement.”