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AI in Tourism: Streamlining the Traveler Journey

Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton,Qantas Airlines and Eindhoven Airport are disrupting the industry with AI. Find out how they’re applying it -  and what travel companies need to do to keep pace with this new technology.

The pandemic hit the tourism industry hard, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, according to some sources, travel companies should be preparing for a boom. Predictive models built by EY-Parthenon see bookings exceeding pre-Covid levels in the near future.

Technology will be playing a key role in this recovery, in particular in the form of artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning. The ability to streamline and personalise services will help travel companies save money, and meet consumers’ demanding expectations.

From booking online via a chatbot and seamless self-check-ins, to guest-assistance bots, AI is replacing human interactions, and changing the face of travel for consumers.

A traveller’s new AI assisted journey could look something like this:

 

Booking travel with the help of AI

 

Today’s travellers expect to organise their trips instantaneously. AI assistants and intelligent chatbots can fulfil these expectations. Companies like Hyatt Hotels, Booking.com and Skyscanner use AI powered chatbots to provide travellers with personalised recommendations, and help them book rooms or find flights.

AI-powered chatbots and instant messaging apps can also respond to consumer common queries in real-time, 24/7, leaving staff free to focus on other tasks.

Automated SaaS platforms can speed up the booking process itself, with car rentals, flights, hotels and sightseeing tours planned via a single travel platform.

 

AI can mitigate travel disruption

 

AI can help hotels and travel companies predict disruptions, for example, caused by the weather, or operations at airports . AI tools can send out notifications to alert travellers and travel managers about upcoming delays, so contingency plans can be rapidly organised.

Qantas Airlines uses a solution called Amadeus to reduce the number and length of delays due to traffic congestion, operational delays and weather conditions to improve a customer’s travel experience.

 

AI at the airport

 

AI is appearing everywhere across the aviation industry from self-service check-in robots to facial recognition checks at customs. The UK government recently invested £1.8m into the development of AI systems to boost security, and cut waiting times at the country’s busiest airports. 

“ AI can be used to manage tourist flows, serve as robots and autonomous trolleys at airports, or increase the wellbeing of employees”.

Journal of Destination Marketing & Management

 Many airports now employ robots to help guide passengers in terminals. Some airports now use AI baggage handling systems. Eindhoven Airport is successfully using AI powered luggage handling systems without baggage labels.

Autonomous mobility scooters like those seen in Japan’s Haneda International Airport may become a common sight too, as will automated vacuum cleaners.

 

AI to improve the hotel experience

Contactless and recognition technology, including retina scanning and other biometric identifiers, can help automate check in. Marriott Hotels can deliver room keys through a self-service kiosk on check-in, via facial recognition.

Smart assistants can serve as AI concierges too. AI robots can use AI and speech recognition to provide customers with tourist information. Connie is a welcome robot used by Hilton Hotels that can answer queries and provide attraction recommendations.

 

AI to make repetitive tasks more efficient

Travel companies are deploying more automation to limit human staff/passenger interactions. They are also turning to automation in a bid to cope with reduced staffing levels.  AI can extract and process data from scanned documents and create reports far more quickly than humans can.

Machine learning and AI look set to change the travel experience as we know it. AI can reduce queues, and help companies become more agile and efficient at every step of the traveller’s journey.

It’s humans, however, that will be required to program and maintain AI bots and systems. So travel companies need to focus on retraining and recruiting programmers and product developers.

Firebrand delivers accelerated training in AI and machine learning, as well as accredited courses in programming and product development. For a discussion about your requirements please call us on 080 80 800 808 or drop us a line at info@firebrand.co.uk.