Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at new Skift Travel Health Index results, destinations marketing via charging stations, and the challenge of meetings in the metaverse.
Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, November 18. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
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The travel industry has made progress throughout the year in its rebound from the pandemic. But its final push to a complete recovery has stalled amid a possible global recession, according to Skift Research’s newly released Travel Health Index.
Senior Research Analyst Wouter Geerts writes there are enough uncertainties to suppress the travel industry’s overall growth. The Index’s average global score in October hit 84 percent of pre-Covid levels. Although that’s 19 percentage points higher than the figure recorded for October 2021, the Index has been hovering around the 85 percent mark since June.
Geerts notes the Asia-Pacific region’s ongoing struggles are continuing to weigh down the travel industry’s recovery. Bookings made in the region for future flights have only reached 30 percent of 2019 levels, with China still largely prohibiting its citizens from overseas travel.
Next, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is bullish that the metaverse, a virtual world where people interact with each other via digital means, will transform the business world. But Meta, like other major tech companies, is finding staff are experiencing difficulties using virtual reality for meetings, reports Contributor Julie Moline for Skift Meetings.
Although Moline writes it’s clear that more companies will adopt virtual reality, she adds that technological barriers are preventing some workers from joining and participating in meetings. Even Meta found that many of its employees didn’t have virtual reality headsets for meetings on its Horizon Workrooms app, which allows users represented by avatars to gather around a conference table. An executive at a virtual reality events company said it’s not easy for some workers to become comfortable with the headsets quickly.
However, Moline notes that younger workers are increasingly eager to embrace the metaverse. Frank Weishaupt, CEO of video conference device maker Owl Labs, said companies need to modernize their technology to cater to a tech-savvy generation.
Finally, electric vehicles have grown enormously in recent years as consumers are increasingly looking for greener ways to travel. And destinations across the U.S. are seeking federal funding for charging stations they believe will boost tourism, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.
The Biden administration has launched a program enabling communities and businesses to apply for grants to help pay for charging stations, which can cost more than $100,000. Habtemariam writes some destination marketing organizations are working with local government officials to take advantage of the federal program, citing Visit North Carolina as an example. An official from the organization said installing charging stations throughout the state would alleviate concerns electric vehicle drivers have about traveling in North Carolina.
Habtemariam adds that charging stations represent opportunities for rural and underserved areas to attract visitors. Matt Berna, president of tour operator Intrepid Travel and a longtime electric car owner, said placing stations at hotels, national parks or major attractions could lure travelers to certain destinations.