Gerardo Vera
Director General
CWT for Mexico and Central America
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View from the Top

Technology, Innovation and AI Can Improve Business Tourism

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 17:18

Q: How has CWT’s overall global strategy changed to reflect Mexico’s higher ranking as a world tourism destination?

A: For many years, Mexico and the Latin American region were immersed in a dynamic whose objective was to retain customers, so business in the region was leveraged by the sales we had from global clients. In the last two years, we have increased our sales team by more than 20 percent to attract more customers, which has led us to unprecedented growth. This has made the global organization turn its eyes to Latin America, as it should have done from the start, and begin considering the region as a growth engine. 
Our CEO has already visited the region and wants to know why the US is forecasting one-digit growth rates while Latin America is forecasting double-digit growth. We are a growing region, attracting new clients and in the case of Mexico, experiencing high levels of profitability. That has been our main focus: profitability through the attraction of new clients. 

Q: Beyond low prices or access to more hotels, what is the added value that CWT offers its clients and users?

A: A large company with a large budget for travel needs to have the appropriate administration to get better results. The only effective way to have control of the travel budget is with the assistance of a company that helps you manage it and sets the needed criteria and policies.
Differentiating ourselves from other travel management companies (TMCs) is important. For us it is very simple: the recipe is innovation and service. We are a service company and we must offer our clients the best possible service. When it comes to traveling, it is impossible not to make any mistakes, as many variables come into play. 
For this reason, it is necessary to have the infrastructure to respond to all possibilities. Technology plays a key role in service innovation, such as AI, offering 24/7 services or having a predictive knowledge platform to analyze customer behavior. All this helps companies generate a great savings.
We have developed a tool called Price Tracking that helps our clients save on prices even after they have already bought their ticket. If the system notices that there is a better price than that the client already paid for and that price proves beneficial even with the cancellation fees, then it automatically cancels the previous ticket and gets the new one, providing savings to our customers. This helps to generate additional savings and ensures our clients that they will always be buying the best possible ticket. 
There is an additional factor that has great relevance: security. As a TMC, we need to know where travelers are all the time. We have many alliances with security companies that have several protocols in case of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. These are some of the factors that help differentiate us from other companies. 

Q: Last year, you told MBR that you were directing your efforts toward digitalization and the use of Big Data. What results have you achieved?

A: We have an omnichannel strategy, meaning that travelers can contact us by phone, email or through our app, CWT to Go. What we are trying to do is to push the digital experiences of our travelers through CWT to Go, which improves the door-to-door experience for business travelers. We hope this will generate more appetite from our clients, especially considering the potential of the millennial generation, which is completely adapted to digital environments. 
We achieved growth rates of almost 25 percent in 2017 and over 50 percent of our clients’ interactions with us are done through digital channels. For us, digitalization implies greater efficiency and a better level of service.