Gloria Guevara, World Travel and Tourism Council Gloria Guevara, World Travel and Tourism Council

Tech’s impact on biz travel questioned, but financial woes a worry

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) does not envisage virtual meetings and other technologies replacing business travel, but does accept that recessionary forces are likely to put ongoing pressure on the sector.

Gloria Guevara, chief executive officer and president at WTTC, says technology is an enabler and helps people do business in times when people’s movements are restricted.

‘But I don’t believe it will replace travel. We have seen many times in the past that when you have disruptions people say that these innovations will impact travel and every time it has been the opposite - we have actually seen growth in travel.’

Guevara was a speaker on a CAPA Centre for Aviation webinar this week, along with Alexander de Juniac, director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association.

‘Video conferencing, along with Skype, has been around a long time,’ says Guevara. ‘Zoom has been a good solution, but at the moment we have no choice – we have to use that sort of technology.’

She says there will be cultural reasons in many parts of the world why business people will want to meet face to face again.

‘There will also be businesses that can close a deal faster face to face. Some businesses need to travel to monitor their employees for whatever reason. I think we will see a combination (of virtual and face to face) but I don’t think these technologies will replace business travel.’

de Juniac says he hopes Guevara is right, but says IATA is concerned about the ‘deep recession’ the world is heading towards. ‘That is more than likely to have a strong impact on travel. The first cost reduction any company does is to cut travel.’