AI will change your life, says ABTA boss

AI will change your life
By Harry Kemble
Home » AI will change your life, says ABTA boss

ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer said artificial intelligence (AI) is ‘going to change people’s lives’ inside and outside the travel industry.

Speaking at the trade association’s 13th Travel Matters conference, Mark called AI ‘a transformative technology’.

He said it was unlikely AI would be able to fly a plane or cook breakfast for tourists but it would help in other areas like when the customers research their holiday.

“I am not a technologist, but this really does feel very different [from other technologies],” he said, adding: “I think AI is going to change people’s lives and not just those in the travel industry.

“The bits in the middle [of the holiday booking process], in terms of how a customer researches a holiday, will be impacted by AI.

“There are reports coming out of America saying that the big sectors that will be impacted AI will be insurance and travel. It’s moving so fast.”

He said the ‘out of the blue’ arrival of AI meant the need for the industry and the political establishment to be in close dialogue was ‘clear’.

Read more: Which is better, a travel agent, ChatGPT – or Bard?

Mark said ABTA had had a good relationship with Government for ‘a long time’ and was ‘intensely engaged’ with Labour and Conservative MPs ‘across a very broad range of issues and departments’.

“I think a lot of people think that a relationship with Government should be adversarial or gladiatorial, but it’s not really like that,” he added.

“It’s more about how we can work together to solve the problems that are ahead of us. We’ve got so many different models in the travel industry. We can bring these experts together.”

Mark said it was crucial that ABTA maintained its current relationship with Government as the industry worked towards ‘a shared vision for our future, putting the debate about Brexit behind us and building new bridges to the EU’.  

“Collaboration is already underway, but more urgency needs to be injected,” he added.

Mark also warned that the industry was ‘not out of the woods yet’ post-pandemic as many customers were still in ‘a cost-of-living squeeze’.

“It won’t be until we reach the end of 2023 that we see exactly where the industry stands on its recovery path,” he said.

Mark urged the industry to increase the pace of investment in sustainability technologies and put ‘ourselves on a crisis footing’.

“We did it during COVID, so we know it is possible,” he said.

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