Travel in the Ozempic Era


Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at travel in the age of Ozempic, Amazon’s AI tools for the travel industry, and Virgin’s test run of long-haul sustainable flights.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, November 30. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

A new class of drugs is helping make progress in the fight against obesity. However, Editor-in-Chief Sarah Kopit reports the global travel industry isn’t yet ready for a shift that could have a colossal impact on businesses. 

Kopit notes the so-called Ozempic Era could benefit cruise and tour operators and airlines – businesses that have food as a cost.For example, the more an aircraft weighs, the more fuel it takes to fly. Bloomberg cited one analyst who thinks United Airlines could save $80 million a year if the average passenger lost 10 pounds. 

But there could also be losers – travel companies that count on food as a revenue generator, such as hotels and entertainment venues. Even a small decrease in spending on food and drinks while traveling would hurt. 

Next, several next generation travel products have been revealed at the Amazon Web Services’ ongoing conference in Las Vegas, writes Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes. 

Dawes cited the Amazon One Enterprise, a kiosk that scans the palm of the hand to verify a person’s identity, as one product that could help hotels and airports operate more efficiently. AWS said the tech is meant to help turn companies away from traditional security access measures — like fobs and passwords — that can lead to security breaches. 

In addition, AWS revealed some new generative artificial intelligence capabilities for Amazon Connect, a platform that companies can use to streamline operations in customer-service contact centers. Choice Hotels is already using some of those capabilities in its customer service contact center. 

Finally, Virgin Atlantic Airways completed a transatlantic flight this week using only sustainable aviation fuel. The company is calling on the UK government to provide more support for the greener way of flying, reports Edward Russell, editor of Skift publication Airline Weekly. 

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said the flight was important to show that sustainable aviation fuel could fully power a flight across the Atlantic safely. Russell notes the fuel is considered to be the holy grail of its decarbonization efforts. 

But the global supply of sustainable aviation fuel is limited, and Weiss urged the British authorities to provide a price support mechanism to help bring down its cost. Russell writes most airlines are clamoring for a mix of sustainable aviation fuel mandates and financial support. 



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