Where is Travel Going? 4 Key Trends

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Caesars Entertainment Chief Commercial Officer Pavan Kapur shares 4 travel trends that will shape the industry—and how to stay ahead of them.

When Pavan Kapur thinks back to challenges his industry has faced, from the 2008 economic downturn to the COVID pandemic, the Caesars Entertainment executive recalls how the travel, tourism, hospitality and events sectors all yearned for expert guidance.

Fast forward to April 2023, when Kapur, who graduated from the University of Florida in 2000, returned to campus for a board meeting of the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute (EFTI). Row after row of posters from EFTI Director Dr. Rachel J.C. Fu and her collaborators displayed cutting-edge research on topics from artificial intelligence to post-pandemic trends— nsights available through a newly launched EFTI Partnership Program.

“Expertise like this can help us prepare for what’s next,” Kapur says.

Pavan Kapur

Kapur became Caesars’ Chief Commercial Officer last June, overseeing areas as varied as pricing structure and customer-facing technology, including the website and mobile app. Fielding multiple vendor pitches each day for new innovations keeps Kapur well aware of the rapid shifts in the industry and the need to stay abreast of them. As part of EFTI’s advisory board, he’s excited to bring members the latest findings from UF, consultations from EFTI researchers, and a pipeline to top talent, among other benefits.

He outlined four factors shaping the industry’s future where the EFTI partnership program can give members an edge:

Shifts in Spending

Gen Xers and Millennials are projected to inherit $16 trillion from Baby Boomers in the next 10 years, which Kapur foresees triggering an industry-wide shift. “Unlike Baby Boomers who have built a reputation for being savers, I think the generation now are willing to spend their money, and they’re going to spend it on nice things and nice travel experiences,” he says. EFTI partnership members get access to exclusive whitepapers on such emerging topics in tourism and hospitality.

Advancements in AI

“Everyone’s talking about how AI will shape hospitality. Will AI transform the way people book their vacations, so instead of a travel agent guessing what you like, AI can curate an experience for you based on your likes? On the partner side, is AI going to shape the way we staff? AI is obviously the buzzword. How does it go from being a buzzword to actually being implemented? That’s going to shape the industry over the next five to 10 years.” With a university-wide commitment to AI across the curriculum and the country’s most powerful university-owned AI supercomputer, “UF and EFTI are going to put theory into practical use,” he says. Partners have exclusive access to workshops and seminars, one of which recently covered AI.

An Agile Workforce

As the industry undergoes rapid change, so will the skill sets required of tourism professionals. “That’s the beauty of this job. It’s never the same,” Kapur says. As a top public university located in tourism-driven Florida, UF creates a stream of qualified candidates for jobs and internships. EFTI partners get early access to top graduates of the Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management program, as well as scholarships for eligible employees for UF’s online Master of Science in Tourism and Hospitality Management. Internships can not only provide low-cost labor to help with seasonal demand, but also build a new generation of innovators, Kapur says. “Creating new leaders, watching their careers grow and flourish and helping them get to where they want to be — that’s so rewarding. It’s the part of the job I love the most,” he says.

Collaboration Across Sectors

“Companies are no longer operating in silos,” Kapur says, offering the example of an airline and hotel joining forces to leverage their loyalty programs. With an advisory board that draws on restaurant, hotel, cruise, golf, theme park and other sectors, EFTI partners can join conversations about ways to collaborate “to make sure that we offer the best value and best experience for our customers.”

Find more information on the EFTI Industry Partnership Program here.

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