Is Your Travel Business Ready for CSRD Disclosure?

The travel industry, like many others, is facing increasing pressure to operate sustainably and transparently. The upcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) represents a pivotal step in this direction, mandating comprehensive ESG (environmental, social, and governance) disclosures. But what does this mean for your travel business? Are you prepared to meet these new requirements?

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What I Learned Attending the MSc in Digital Transformation with the University of Hull

As someone who likes to try to continuously push myself to learn, I enrolled in a masters in Digital Transformation at the University of Hull, to really help me understand the business aspect of digital transformation. Although demanding at times, it has been a remarkable journey. Here’s what I learned:

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Exploring the Viability of Hybrid Neo Engines and Their Potential to Lower Radiative Forcing

The aviation industry has long been under scrutiny for its significant contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and the ensuing radiative forcing, which exacerbates global warming. As the world seeks greener alternatives, the concept of hybrid engines, particularly for the new generation of engines like the Neo engines, has gained attention. This blog explores whether the development of hybrid Neo engines could be viable and how they might help reduce radiative forcing.

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Travel agencies use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to save money

Travel agents often book outside of the corporate booking engine. A good example of this is Ryanair or easyJet flights, and other tour operators or dmcs, who may give negotiated rates over the phone.

These manually booked elements, bear risks. Risk of typos, date errors, risk of incorrect costs. If left un-checked these bear a liability to travel agencies.

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When customer services is less important than profit.

COVID-19 impacted the world economy like no other event. It came very quickly and many companies were not prepared for their staff to be suddenly working remotely.

The majority of office workers have in the most part been working from home since March, those which are less fortunate have been furloughed.

For some businesses have had a down turn in sales but needed to maintain customer services (such as most travel businesses) and those businesses have managed reasonably well to manage the increase in demand. Those companies I applaud, their income has dropped but they managed to maintain a good level of customer services.

The problem is with companies who’s income remains high who are making it difficult for consumers to get the service they need. These companies have reported stable profits and been mostly unaffected by COVID-19.

A couple of examples that I’ve personally encountered.

During this period I’ve needed to make various calls. Virgin Mobile for example have ceased their chat, and their phones queue indefinitely (I gave up after more than 10 attempts). Other companies such as e-commerce giants have removed their phone numbers entirely, and I think this isn’t acceptable.

Sainsbury’s on numerous occasions have incorrectly delivered products, and fail to refund or resolve. You’re asked to email, but emails go unanswered. So it’s down to the customer to contact Sainsbury’s to resolve. The phone experience is challenging, you might get answered eventually but the person who answers isn’t trained or able to service, so disconnects you, if you’re lucky you might get answered to be passed to someone else and on goes the pain.

Setting up a remote workspace and a sip phone client on a cloud based phone system isn’t complex, enabling access to systems remotely isn’t that difficult. We can adapt to a remote workforce. To withdraw phone numbers and to be unable to answer calls at all is an example of some businesses intentionally furloughing staff to receive subsides and not enabling its staff to operate as it should do.

Maybe we were unfortunate with when we contacted these businesses. I understand businesses need to make a profit to survive, if buy some luck you have more sales then you can afford to increase your customer services teams, but clearly for these businesses that’s not something they’ve done.

I switched from Virgin Mobile, and stopped buying from Sainsbury’s online.

Will the future bring a world where we trade ad views for (virtual) currency?

Nothing is free. We have become consumers of free apps everywhere. As digital businesses tap into the freemium model (offering their applications for free), we (the consumer) use them. Unknowingly or knowingly we are trading something for that.

Vendors, especially game vendors have realised that free delivers more value than paid, and this is where I feel we might we might be losing our choice.

As a parent of two kids, I’m conscious of what my kids watch. We limit TV and tablet usage to encourage social in-person activities. But I’m getting increasingly concerned by the amount of ads which they’re exposed to via mobile and tablet.

Growing up, computer games were an enjoyable way of exploring the world, learning skills/tactics etc (Counterstrike, Rail road tycoon, Minecraft, even coding basic!). But my world was a world without internet and eventually from the age of 16, dial–up internet. Today, in contrast we have super computers in our pocket which we can interact with a finger and access to everything 24/7. Data and Ads are everywhere no longer limited to print and posters.

For this post I’m discussing phone and tablets (devices that most people have and that are accessible to almost everyone – no controllers to master or additional equipment to buy). These devices have an increasing community of games, many of which are focused around earning virtual coins/points, and have a hidden revenue path pushing Ad views in exchange for virtual currency.

You might say; “why are you not buying the game vs having a game with Ads?” Thats fair, These new breed of games look initially innocent, but are loaded with Ads as part of their gameplay regardless of whether you pay to remove static ads or not. These games need coins/credits to play, to earn those credits you have to; buy credits (with real money), choose to watch an ad (for a bonus) or are forced to watch an ad to continue.

Cat Game, a popular game (age 4+) is a game where you collect Cats and build floors. The goal; you have to craft materials to decorate each room/level, each level has a goal. To play you spend coins to craft the items. This eventually gets you more rooms and more cats, and so on. You can get coins by buying them (with real money), waiting, or playing three mini-games (poppycats and blockycats, or to cast a vote, some of which require some skill).

If you choose to wait you’ll earn a trickle of coins throughout the day which becomes capped (to the point where you can’t do that much), so you have to return to the app every 3-4 hours if you want to bank those and continue to accrue more (most likely with an ad to interrupt you and/or a bonus tied to a conditional ad).

On the whole it’s a nice game (ignoring the ads), however for each 5 or so plays of the mini game, you are forced to watch a 30 second ad. On each delivery (from your floor), you can decide whether to watch an Ad to get another delivery. The Ad watching is being exchanged for coins (some of which is optional and some isn’t).

This model is the same for a variety of games, not just Cat Game.
Ads = points, points = progression. We’re conditioning our children to watch Ads in exchange for virtual limited currency.

These ads although potentially meaningless are most likely conditioning our kids on choice. Unlike television they are powered by complex algorithms targeting content to our kids, some of which might not be appropriate, and our kids are being exposed to it.

I believe there should be controls over this, perhaps like GDPR we should be able to opt-in. before this exchange becomes a more serious problem.