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The right tools for 2024 - Ed’s letter

As we consider 2024 and all the debris we are dragging into it from 2023 - wars, imminent elections, economic pressure on all sides - it’s tricky to find the optimism, but, actually, it’s not as tricky as it might have been.

Yes, the government doesn’t care about hospitality other than as a source of tax. Yes, it is becoming harder and harder to bring much-needed team members in from overseas. Yes, the cost of pretty much everything you need to run a business, from tomatoes to debt, is still high.

But necessity is, slowly and exhaustingly, proving to be the mother of invention. Earlier this year we all enjoyed a hilarious few weeks using ChatGPT to write all our correspondence and rewrite old university essays and it was all a lot of fun until we started to recall the Terminator movies and then AI was less of an amusing lunchtime diversion and more of an existential threat.

That other existential threat, climate change, continued to make its presence felt around the globe, most notably for those of us in this part of the world in another summer of fires in Europe and a very soggy summer in the UK. Holiday choices were out of the soaking dish and into the fryer.

But now, as the industry wonders whether the cost-of-living crisis will keep diners at home, saving for the overseas holiday they won’t give up, there is hope to be had from technology. Not just the ‘hurrah! The chatbot can take burger orders!’ end of the market, but the bit where we start using the I of AI.

At the start of December, the WTTC released a study looking at the sector’s water use, which is better than some industries, but not wonderful.

Jesko-Philipp Neuenburg, Global Travel and Aviation Sustainability lead at Accenture, said that the study highlighted “the transformative power of data and technology to drive collaboration, inform decision-making, foster innovation and implement water reduction and resilience action plans.

“From artificial intelligence, generative AI and machine learning, smart sensors and IOT, to blockchain and the metaverse, technology and data are enablers of sustainability and can play an important role in water stewardship efforts across the travel supply chain – whilst addressing security, privacy and environmental risks. With global travel demand booming, now is the time for travel and tourism organisations to reinvent their efforts and build actionable, impactful and accountable water strategies for this precious and finite resource.”

We all know that managing and mitigating climate change is not going to happen without behavioural change on all our parts. But having the right tools to do the job is an empowering start.


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