Daily Podcast: UK Travel Incompetence

quick take

Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, June 22 in New York City. Here’s what you need to know about the travel business today.

Rashaad Jordan

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at the utter incompetence of England’s leadership to operate airports or trains, use WhatsApp to drive travel bookings in the Middle East and India, and a direct booking effort for hotels in Argentina.

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episode notes

The travel chaos in the UK in recent weeks, including overloaded airports and rail strikes, is dealing a heavy blow to the country’s economic recovery. This kind of travel disruption could also damage the UK’s reputation, reports corporate travel editor Matthew Parsons.

London Heathrow airport, in particular, has had its share of problems, including a baggage pileup widely reported on social media around the world. The airport has asked airlines to cancel flights so it can catch up with delays caused by a flaw in its baggage system. Meanwhile, a rail strike is complicating companies’ efforts to get their employees back to the office.

Catherin Logan, an executive at the Global Business Travel Association, said that further disruption to travel will affect the recovery of business travel and said that the return to the office has a direct correlation with the large-scale return of the sector. Meanwhile, Andrew Stephenson, director of marketing at consumer data firm Treasure Data, warns that the inability of UK airlines to cope with large numbers of travelers is damaging the country’s reputation internationally. He added that the airline industry has a strong climb to regain its footing in the coming months.

Next, WhatsApp, which has grown in popularity in recent years, has become a popular communications platform for travel companies across India and the Middle East. But businesses using the app still need human interaction with customers to drive bookings, writes Asia editor Peden Doma Bhutia.

Travel executives like Ashish Pratap Singh, director of marketing for the Middle East online travel agency Rehlat.com, tout the benefits of WhatsApp, especially in terms of being able to quickly inform consumers of flight changes. . While travel businesses using WhatsApp isn’t a new development — a 2016 Skift megatrend noted that brands ignoring popular messaging platforms were doing so at their peril — it’s growing in importance for such businesses. Approximately 390 million people use WhatsApp monthly in India.

But as travel brands like India-based online travel agency Yatra use chatboxes on WhatsApp to resolve consumer queries, Bhutia writes that it’s crucial for companies to use human interaction when situations call for it.

We end today with a plan in Latin America to combat the digital divide that affects its hotels. Argentina’s hotel and restaurant federation is launching an online reservation website to help properties in the region make direct reservations, writes contributor Paula Krizanovic.

ReservAR Accommodation, a project developed by Argentine hotel leaders, aims to bridge a digital divide that has resulted in many Latin American travel companies falling behind in online sales. The project provides free marketing and digital management to licensed hosting providers, regardless of whether they are affiliated with the association or not. Fernando Desbots, president of the federation, said the group’s research revealed that 60 percent of companies in the sector were not using digital tools as of 2020.

Direct bookings are desirable for hotels because they eliminate middleman fees. Florencia Landivar, the federation’s vice president, said some travel companies couldn’t afford the 15 to 30 percent commissions charged by online travel agencies, meaning they weren’t using the digital channels consumers are used to. .

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