Lot of buzz around Artificial Intelligence these days and most importantly in travel, tourism and hospitality industry. So, let’s first understand what is Artificial Intelligence and how it can be applied within the industry.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines. In computer science, an ideal intelligent machine is a flexible rational agent that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at some goal.
In simple terms AI is the process of machine learning, which is further based on the data we have collected. So, it is the process of making our data (big, raw, deep, structured & unstructured) into Fast & Smart Data to give relevant results at the right time to the right audience.
In travel and accommodation industry, it can simplify the entire search and book process to a great extent. A very high level use case is below –
How would you feel if your online travel & accommodation site can give you personalized recommendations basis on your past history… as below–
- When searching for flights for a holiday destination for a family, the search result filters and gives you options that you usually book –
a. Flights that offer free baggage
b. Flights that depart on late Friday night (if you searching for Friday departure)
c. Flights where aisle and window seats are available in same row.
d. Airline that you have used before or has a frequent flier membership with.
- When searching for accommodation options for your travel, you get recommended results –
a. Stay option (Hotel, Resort, Vacation Rental, Sharing Accommodation etc)
b. In your preference of location (near public transport, near important place of interest, near a shopping mall etc)
c. With the preference of amenities like free Internet, breakfast, king bed, extra bed for kids etc.
d. With the choice of room like non-smoking, with a view, accessible etc.
- And on top of that, also gives you options for Activities and things to do –
a. If traveling with Kids, then kids friendly
b. Type of Activities you usually do (Adventure, beach fun, city tours, museums, concerts etc)
c. Preference of your time for each such activity and how much time you have booked to stay in that place.
All the above and much more options given to you personalized without you searching, scrolling and making an effort to find out. Though other options do co-exist, but this is where you will make a start and if done smartly, will not look further.
All this can now be made possible with AI and most importantly on a real time basis. However, to make it possible, companies need to ensure they have all of this & more data (structured or unstructured) of their customers available with them so that AI can convert it into smart data.
Once data is converted into Smart Data, AI can further help gain deeper insights about customers and provide them with more valuable, personalized experiences that can demonstrate – Understanding, Reasoning, Learning and Responsive interaction.
AI is best used when the user/customer is in the optimal mindset to engage.
There are tons of companies doing great work using AI within the industry from giving information on best time, date, place to travel to who all in your social network is visiting the same place at the same time or have been there recently to giving you information on safety, theft and medical parameters to helping you collaborate within your network, form a group and increase your buying power to get better deals.
There is still lot to be done and this is just the beginning of Artificial Intelligence. Travel Professionals need to evolve in how they service and understand their customer today to how they will add value in the whole travel buying process in times to come.
Please do share your thoughts and ideas on how you see AI changing the future of travel buying and for the industry as a whole.