Most companies are resisting AI, arguing that it could eliminate jobs. Mondy is very clear about that.
Mondee, which provides a booking platform for travel agencies, cut about 15 people from its marketing team late last year, including its chief marketing officer.
Much of the work done by the team was done by AI, with about six contract workers based in India filling in the rest, said Orestes Fintiklis, vice chairman of Mondee.
“In India they are being replaced by AI and some outsourced services,” Fintiklis told Skift. “And we can do that at a fraction of the cost. It took a very large amount of capital for a team of 15 people.”
The reduced staff will be hired primarily from March to November 2023 to drive a new strategy of establishing partnerships with social media influencers, so when their followers use the Mondee platform to book travel. You can receive commissions. After an analysis late last year, Mondee found it would be more cost-effective to leverage his AI more aggressively.
“The added value these teams brought relative to the cost was not justified,” Fintiklis said.
“Especially if you're doing commodities or analytics, you don't need people to do it anymore. You need one person, not 10, and AI.”
Mondee has approximately 1,300 employees, over 700 of whom are based in India. This includes his marketing staff, who will focus on Mondee's core business of providing software to travel agents. Fintiklis said his 60% to 70% of his revenue comes from his day job.
He said the changes did not affect core marketing teams because their strategies are more complex and less susceptible to AI.
However, he believes AI could become more involved in the core marketing business over the next year or two.
Miten Mehta, who joined Mondee in July as head of AI solutions, is leading these changes in his second role as the company's new CMO.
“That’s why the new CMO is an AI guy,” Fintiklis said.
Mondee’s AI investments
Mondee is focused on implementing AI into large parts of its business. The company acquired AI company Purple Grid in November and plans to improve its AI travel assistant and integrate AI throughout the company, including back-office operations such as sales and marketing.
Last July, Mondee released an upgraded version of its travel booking platform that is integrated with generative AI and includes a chatbot called Abhi.
Fintiklis and other experts agree that these types of changes, especially in marketing, are likely to continue across the industry.
“You'll see that across the board. I don't think this is a Mondi-specific event,” he said.