February 24, 2023

Mastering Transformation

PhocusWright will take the stage at ITB Berlin 2023 to discuss technology-­driven innovation and digital transformation in the travel industry

Charuta Fadnis, Senior Vice President, Research and Product Strategy and Eugene Ko, Director, Marketing and Communications at Phocuswright, shared their views on the global travel industry ahead of the show in an exclusive interview with ITB Berlin News.

What is the outlook for the global travel industry in 2023?
Charuta Fadnis: The global travel industry remains buoyant despite macroeconomic headwinds. Travelers continue to prioritise travel as a discretionary spend category despite higher prices. Leisure travel leads the post-pandemic travel boom and will continue to flourish this year. Corporate travel, though slower to recover is also making a steady return especially the groups and meetings segment. And the opening of the last major holdout market, China, provides even more of an impetus to tourism. But air capacity is yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels and labor shortages plague virtually every sector of the industry, constraining the pace of recovery. Phocuswright projects that the travel industry will continue to build on a strong 2022 as we go through 2023 and return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024. 

How are travellers’ expectations changing and what new challenges does this present? 
Travellers in this post-pandemic era have become habituated to technology as an integral part of their travel experience. In an era of labor shortages, this creates an opportunity for suppliers to incorporate technology into their guest services – whether that is kiosk-based check-in with self-printed bag tags at the airport or mobile check-in with a digital key at the hotel or menus and payment using QR codes in a restaurant. Not all suppliers have the ability to invest and/or adapt to this change quickly but the industry has made great progress in the last three years. 

Travellers have become very conscious about the environment. But they don’t want to reduce or stop traveling. Instead, they actively seek out options that are sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint. Suppliers and destinations recognise this shift in traveler behaviour and are actively working towards mitigating their impact on the environment. Striking a balance between eco-friendliness and economic factors is no easy task. Adding to their challenges is changing policy and regulation surrounding Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). Sustainable and regenerative tourism will remain one of the key issues on the radar of the travel industry over the coming years. 

Many companies embraced remote or hybrid work policies during and after the pandemic, fuelling the digital nomadism/work from anywhere trend. Over 50 countries welcomed digital nomads and the money they brought into local economies, even creating special visas. With employees keen to retain their flexible working patterns, there are challenges as well as opportunities for the travel industry. Video conferencing became a part of the toolkit for connecting with customers and colleagues. This has contributed to the slower rebound of business travel but the desire to meet face-to-face remains strong. Meetings and conferences were a bright spot last year. Small meetings (teams, off-sites) are likely to grow as well. But overall business travel growth is likely to be constrained in the near term.

How does Phocuswright help travel companies gain a competitive advantage?  
Eugene Ko: Phocuswright is the leading authority in travel, tourism and hospitality market research. We combine independent and unbiased research, data visualisation tools and world-class executive events to give a competitive advantage to senior executives, marketers, strategists and research professionals around the world. Driven by our research expertise, we foster growth and innovation, create community through unprecedented networking at Phocuswright events and give travel leaders around the world a daily comprehensive news outlet through PhocusWire. Our marketplace intelligence sets the industry standard for segmentation, sizing, forecasting, trends, analysis and consumer travel planning behaviour.

We believe that travel is transformational.

Why Phocuswright? 
Travel expands horizons, enables personal growth, evolves perspectives and is ever-changing in its complexity. We believe that curiosity, rigour and smart thinking push boundaries, challenge the status quo and drive innovation. We are passionate about pursuing knowledge and providing insights that power impact. We attract bright people for whom excellence is a baseline and exceeding expectations is part of the DNA. We know that successful travel companies must understand the market, embrace technological change, find business partners, expand their offers and enhance their technology. We offer fuel for the journey.

Why is it important for the industry to meet up at global events like ITB Berlin? 
Nothing beats meeting face-to-face for building relationships, solidifying deals and driving innovation. An event like ITB Berlin sparks debate, discussions and ideas to define and anticipate the ever-evolving nature of the travel industry. Attendees can find a diverse mix of thought leadership, innovation and creativity at ITB Berlin, mixing much needed social gatherings with content that drives the industry forward.

Don’t miss PhocusWright’s Investor View

Charuta Fadnis, SVP Research and Product Strategy, Phocuswright, will be speaking with a number of investors on the Orange Stage, March 7 at 1:45 pm in Hall 7.1a. She will be joined by Lucile Cornet (partner, Eight Roads), Chris Hemmeter (managing director, Thayer Ventures) and Jan-Frederik Valentin (managing partner, ENNEA Capital Partners). The session will focus on how the investment climate has shifted over the past few years, looking at the fundamental metrics which investors are interested in. It will seek to answer the questions, how have travel startups been faring so far, and what does the future hold for those looking to change the industry through innovation?

Phocuswright’s Investor View 

Tuesday, 7 March 2023
> 1.45 – 2.45pm
Location: Hall 7.1a Orange Stage