Allianz Partners’ Joe Mason: Powering Confidence in Tomorrow

How Allianz Partners is protecting a new world of travel

You may know Allianz as the global leader in insurance—but in 2024 and beyond, Allianz is growing possibilities like never before. We sat down with Joe Mason, Allianz Partners’ Global Head of Product Management and Innovation, to talk about the future of travel—and how technology and sustainability are helping us shape it. 

How do you foresee travel trends evolving into 2024 and beyond, particularly in a post-pandemic world with increasing emphasis on sustainability?

After being in lockdown only a few short years ago, it’s not surprising to see travel and tourism emerge as the top discretionary spending priority for consumers across the world, especially in places like the U.S.  [1], Spain [2], Italy [3], and Germany [4]. Even in this tougher economic climate, the appetite for travel is stronger than ever. What’s changing is how we travel. More and more, people want their travels to be an authentic reflection of their values, and that includes finding ways to minimize their environmental impact. It’s critical that we approach sustainability not just as a trend, but as a long-term shift. In Allianz Partners’ most recent Vacation Confidence Index, we saw a striking uptick in travelers prioritizing sustainability, even over factors like cost. 

Could you elaborate on the Vacation Confidence Index by Allianz Partners, and some key findings from the latest report? 

Every year, we survey travelers across the world to get insight into their summer travel plans—and more broadly, their intentions and concerns. 

This year, 56% of respondents plan to change the way they travel to reduce their environmental impact; 53% are willing to spend more on transport and accommodations to minimize their carbon footprint. We’re also seeing a more sustainable approach to personal wellness, with rest and relaxation being most travelers’ primary motive for vacationing. It’s also interesting to see how dramatically traveler behavior has changed since the pandemic—43% of respondents consider themselves more adventurous than they were five years ago.

What is Allianz Partners doing to meet these evolving customer needs and expectations? 

Ultimately, customers are looking for true personalization. They want an experience that’s authentically meaningful to them, and that need goes beyond travel. We’re thinking about what personalized support looks like across all the different touchpoints of customers’ lives—whether it’s buying a car, teleconsulting with a doctor, or finding a reliable dog-sitter while they’re on vacation—and creating more holistic products and services to answer those needs.

A good example of how we’re doing this is our all-new Allyz app, which we’ve created to be the ultimate travel companion. With Allyz, customers have a simple way to access and manage their travel insurance, along with features like on-demand medical services, on-trip safety alerts, trip planning tools, and even cyber care services to keep their digital info secure. It takes the guesswork out of travel, and gives customers more power to create the experience they’re looking for. We’ve got plans to expand Allyz to be the ultimate companion for everyday life—so along with travel and cyber care, people will have access to services to help them at home, on the road, and with their health.

What changes do you anticipate in the travel and insurance industries due to artificial intelligence? Can you share some examples from Allianz Partners’ experience?

Obviously AI is the hot topic of the moment across all industries. In travel, there’s a lot of interesting potential for AI to smooth out the customer journey from beginning to end—whether it’s creating more personalized product offers, or using AI-assisted claims processing to get customers paid faster. At Allianz Partners, we’re approaching AI as a human-enabler. How can it free up employees—our most valuable asset—to focus on more high-value work? Because while this technology has the potential to be incredibly valuable, it needs to enhance our human touch versus overriding it.

As the Global Head of Product Management and Innovation, how are you and your teams looking to integrate AI into your marketing strategies

As AI evolves, we’re experimenting internally to see where it makes sense to integrate these emerging tools to optimize our marketing capabilities and deliver a better customer experience overall. We use AI to create more personalized insurance offers that answer our individual customers’ unique needs, which gives them a better purchasing experience. 

As exciting as AI is, our highest priority is to always make sure we’re complying with laws and regulatory requirements. With many of those requirements still developing, we’re incredibly intentional about how we employ AI, especially with so many questions and concerns surrounding data and privacy. There are some amazing new tools out there, but we have to be strategic about how we use them, making sure that we’re protecting customers first and foremost.

Sustainability is another hot topic for the travel industry. How do you define sustainability at Allianz Partners? 

We see sustainability more comprehensively than others might. To us, sustainability goes beyond the traditional definition of safeguarding our physical environment—we need to think of how we’re protecting and investing in our human communities too. That’s especially important in travel, which we know can have an adverse impact on local communities if you aren’t being intentional about the way you visit a destination. It’s vital that we build sustainable relationships with both people and places, and that includes investing in communities across the world.  

Could you elaborate a bit more about Allianz Partners’ approach to social responsibility? 

We’re always looking at new ways to address evolving issues, but at its core, our corporate social responsibility is built on three pillars: environmental and social governance, supporting a low-carbon economy, and social inclusion. Of course, there’s a lot that falls within each of these three, and we’ve got a lot of teams across the business working on different pieces of it. We’ve got an extremely ambitious plan to reduce emissions from our business operations to net zero by 2030 and to make our insurance business and proprietary assets carbon-neutral by 2050.

How is Allianz Partners addressing the environmental impact of travel and tourism, and what initiatives are in place to offset this?

Even the most conscientious travel is going to affect the environment in some capacity, so we’re constantly in conversation with our global partners to find ways to help offset the impact. One example that comes to mind is our recent partnership with a leader in regenerative agriculture to sponsor two low-carbon farming projects to help offset our CO2 emissions in a measurable way—while also supporting local farmers. And then one of my personal favorites is our global societal impact program, which provides grants to Allianz Partners entities to fund a societal impact project in their own community. I love these programs because they help in very tangible ways—like providing quality medical care to kids who otherwise wouldn’t have access. I’m always amazed to see the kinds of things we’re doing across the world, and across all our different lines of business. 

Let’s talk about what Allianz Partners is doing in the mobility space. What unique challenges and opportunities do you see?

Let’s start with the obvious challenge: most of the world isn’t readily equipped for electric vehicles. If something goes wrong with your EV, that lack of infrastructure can make getting help more difficult than it needs to be. But with that, we have opportunities to help customers make a smooth transition into the electric world. We’re able to leverage our existing products and services and extend them into new spaces, like EV charging stations at home, or protection for micro-mobility vehicles like electric scooters and bikes. We already partner with some of the world’s largest EV makers and suppliers, and I’m excited to see what else we do in this space as it evolves.

What excites you about where Allianz Partners is headed?

The most exciting thing to me is how we’re working across lines of business to be present for customers across all the moments of their lives—from going on vacation, to being on the road, to being at home with their families. By leveraging our individual strengths, we’re finding infinite ways to meet our customers and partners where they are today and, more importantly, getting them to where they want to be. That, to me, is true confidence in tomorrow.

Works Cited

 

[1] 

Phocuswright, “U.S. Consumer Travel Report 2023,” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.phocuswright.com/Travel-Research/Consumer-Trends/US-Consumer-Travel-Report-2023. [Accessed 20 December 2023].

[2] 

Phocuswright, “Spain Consumer Travel 2023,” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.phocuswright.com/Travel-Research/Consumer-Trends/Spain-Consumer-Travel-2023. [Accessed 20 December 2023].

[3] 

Phocuswright, “Italy Consumer Travel 2023,” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.phocuswright.com/Travel-Research/Consumer-Trends/Italy-Consumer-Travel-2023. [Accessed 20 December 2023].

[4] 

Phocuswright, “Germany Consumer Travel 2023,” 2023. [Online]. Available: https://www.phocuswright.com/Travel-Research/Consumer-Trends/Germany-Consumer-Travel-2023. [Accessed 20 December 2023].

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