Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already revolutionising the travel industry with enhanced and personalised travel and customer experiences. In this context, companies with AI-based tools and data processing technology will have the ability to become industry leaders. As such, mid-market travel companies have the opportunity to become more competitive with luxury travel companies.
This was stated by Jamie Buxton, Global Senior Director, Marketing of the corporate payment solutions provider WEX during the ninth edition of the Bavel Travel Summit 2023, an international event organised by Voxel, a leading company in electronic billing and payment technology solutions, which brought together the main leaders of the tourism industry and more than 200 professionals from the sector at the Hotel Melià Sitges.
In times of constant innovation in payment methods, Xavier Ginesta, president of Voxel, reflected on the history and meaning of money, explaining that it “should not be the purpose of your business, but the fuel that drives it”. Ginesta concluded by pointing out that technology has managed to humanise some functions, giving value to people with talent that cannot be replaced by technological solutions and also creating new jobs.
Artificial Intelligence: “where there is scepticism, there is transformation”.
AI is already showing benefits for the travel industry, especially around the use of data to generate better customer experiences. “While there is a lot of scepticism about AI, it has the potential to deliver personalised holidays based on consumer data and provide subscription services that create ideal holiday packages based on customer preferences,” said Buxton.
Today, more than half of all companies already use AI-based tools, but only 54% of all AI-designed projects survive the pilot test. “In this sense, we still have a lot to learn when it comes to implementing AI in our businesses.
We still have a lot to learn when it comes to implementing AI in our businesses to make the most of it,” concludes Buxton. The past, present and future of e-payments in the travel industry
The panel led by TerraPay, FIS Worldpay and XanderPay addressed the challenges of the future of electronic payments and transactions in the travel industry. “Hotel chains are starting to accept new forms of payments and are considering how to handle payments from guests coming from all over the world, which offers many opportunities,” explains David Cabreza, COO of XanderPay.
Rodrigo Vilariño, Country Manager Spain & Portugal for Worldpay at FIS, detailed that “the travel industry is bouncing back after the pandemic, and we can learn a lot from it to replicate the model in B2B payments and make transactions frictionless”.
Finally, Koert Grasveld, vice president of payments at TerraPay highlighted the complexity of working with multiple currencies in the travel industry. “We need to focus on streamlining and orchestrating payment processes and making it easier for industry players to work together”.
The cases of Booking.com, Hotelbeds, and the Holy Grail of e-payments
The transformation of the travel industry is undoubtedly about the way in which business-to-business (B2B) payment processes interact. According to Sofoklis Limniotis, Head of Digital Payments & E-Platforms at Hotelbeds, “We are a bit behind in terms of offering payment methods to the end customer. We have seen great collaboration to remove friction in payments for the consumer and provide them with a unique experience. Now it’s time to do the same for corporate payments”.
For Booking.com, Marcus Riehl, Key Account Manager and Global Corporate Partnerships, highlighted how the collaboration with Voxel has helped solve an endemic industry problem with the Billback Request solution, a solution to automate invoice collection and improve VAT reconciliation and recovery processes. With this tool co-created with Voxel, the number of invoices recovered in the last year has increased by 44%.
Finally, David Doctor, CEO of Amadeus Outpayce and Àngel Garrido, CEO of Voxel, reflected on the inefficiencies that still exist in commission payments between hotels and online agencies. “We are dealing with the consequences rather than the root of the problem,” said Garrido. “To address this situation, collaboration between companies in the sector will be essential,” he concluded.