Nearly every industry on the planet is impacted by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in one way or another, and it has now changed the way we navigate the internet, do our banking, play video games, and access technical support. Now, AI is changing the ways that we travel and explore the planet.
Travel and tourism are one of the largest industries on the planet, with a global worth of a staggering 7.6 trillion USD in 2016. With millions of travel companies, airlines, hotels, and tour operators all competing for those dollars, it is no wonder that these businesses are always on the lookout for factors that can set them apart. Harnessing the power of AI is just one of the ways that they are doing so.
How does Artificial Intelligence (AI) work?
Artificial intelligence (AI) works by ‘learning’ about the way you behave, and how you interact with software. AI programs collect your data and responses, and then analyse what it collects. This analysis allows it to learn about you, and then “act upon the discoveries it makes within that data.”
When it comes to the travel industry, companies can use AI to aid in all aspects of the booking and travelling process. From chatbots on websites answering queries, to in-room virtual assistants in hotels, AI is making journeys easier than ever. Google Flights has even started using AI for predicting delays, at times announcing them even before the airlines themselves.
Clearly AI is a force to be reckoned with in the travel industry.
Here are 4 ways that AI is changing the way we explore the world.
1.) Learning what people want out of their trip
AI is now being used to create and drive ‘listening programs’ online, designed to monitor reviews, assess social media comments, and check out guest photos. If this assessment were to be done by a person, it would take a huge amount of time and would only provide a perfunctory glance. Instead, many free tracking tools can now be employed to ‘listen in’ online, and provide hotels and tour operators with valuable feedback.
2. Planning and Researching Trips
AI is now able to access and assess travel histories and reviews in order to present searchers online with fully customized, tailored recommendations. Travellers are asked to rate their desires and preferences in a variety of categories, including “Trip Style,” “Food & Drink,” and “Relaxation.” The system then recommends specific options, and assists in booking them.
AI can help reduce the amount of time and energy necessary for booking a trip, saving people money along the way. Based on what it knows about the traveller, AI can also suggest activities, hotels, and entire destinations that they might otherwise overlook.
3.) Assisting with Hotel bookings
Cart abandonment is a major problem for hotels around the world, as customers browse specific dates but then abandon the booking halfway through the process. According to a recent report on European hotels, only 1 in every 21 people searching for a hotel room actually makes a reservation.
That is where AI can come in and save the day. AI-powered virtual assistants can answer urgent questions that might be preventing the completion of a booking. They can advise about amenities, rates, extra beds and cost, and things to do in the area, all using the software behind Facebook Messenger.
4.) Acting as in-room assistants at hotels
While we tend to think of chatbots and AI-powered voice assistants as solely online experiences, they are starting to move off of the computer and into the hotel room. AI-powered virtual concierges are becoming more sophisticated than ever, and they can enhance a guest’s experience with the property and offer real-time advice.
Hotels can program their own AI concierges to suit their brand. For instance, Las Vegas’s Cosmopolitan Hotel is home to the flirty “Rose,” perfectly suited to their clientele and business model.
Will AI soon plan every aspect of our trips?
Is AI poised to take over all aspects of trip planning, with human travellers simply turning up to the airport at the right time? According to Booking.com, 30% of travellers surveyed said they would be comfortable with just that scenario! It seems that AI is here to stay in the travel industry – where will it take us next?