02 Nov

Unleashing new potential

We’ve had a fantastic few days in Bodrum this week at ABTA’s Travel Convention. As I said in my speech at the start of the business sessions, these days together are a chance to connect with each other, to disconnect from the hourly torrent of e-mails, and to take a more detached view of where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we’re going. 
And we certainly did that.
A topic at the centre of discussion for the industry right now is the role AI might play in the future of our sector. At the Convention we gained insights on AI’s potential and different perspectives on how it is or could be used. We also looked at the recruitment challenge – how to attract the best people into this amazing industry.
My takeaway from these conversations is that AI serves as a strong reminder of the core value of our sector – the human touch, that personal service that no algorithm can replace. AI clearly has great potential to drive efficiencies and a better offering for the customer, but what will remain is the personal service offered by travel agents and tour operators, which is invaluable particularly when things don’t go according to plan. And it’s that personal service that is our USP for attracting talent – these are the skills that will cut through a changing job market, and travel offers the place and platform to develop them. 
We also launched our latest Holiday Habits research this week, which shows holidays are proving resilient in the face of wider economic and operational challenges. In the past 12 months, the travel industry has continued its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic against a backdrop of an ongoing rise in the cost of living.
The industry has also experienced a number of natural, man-made and technological challenges – from wildfires to strikes and an unprecedented air traffic control outage. Despite this, bookings and confidence in travel are strong. And a large part of that is down to the hard work of ABTA members, particularly in supporting customers through the challenges of this year.
Delegates will be returning from Bodrum today after three days of thought-providing discussion, networking and meetings to facilitate and develop business, which is a core part of the Convention experience. 
We look forward to coming together with colleagues and friends from across the industry once again in October next year.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive