The travel and tourism industry has always been at the forefront of technology adoption, especially with digital technology trends. Travelers have been equally enthusiastic about adopting the technological changes to make travel simpler and more enjoyable. This has given the fuel to innovation in products and business models such as Airbnb and Uber. The travel industry warmly welcomed the era of websites with an online presence quickly becoming the primary channel to reach customers. Then it gradually advanced into the era of mobile, catalysed by the social media craze. The industry has quickly adopted a mobile-first approach in a bid to be everywhere, all the time.
We are now at the cusp of the third era – that of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the travel industry. The industry is starting to adopt an AI-first approach, banking on “relevance” becoming the winning factor. AI in travel and tourism is being used to predict travel choices, personalize services, complete bookings and manage in-trip and post-trip needs.
So let’s take a look at some of the ways in which AI & Machine Learning are transforming the travel & tourism industry:
Chatbots and Online Customer Service
Today, with AI-powered chatbots, you can get closer to your target audience than ever-before. Chatbots help consenting customers solve common travel-related issues. Whether it is getting information, booking a flight, or checking in – bots can help with these tasks right away. This solution saves you money on customer service, improving response rates and client satisfaction for your brand.
As a part of online customer service, chatbots help airlines to reduce the time spent on helping customers. Their users, on the other hand, can get the information they need at their greatest convenience.
Personalized Trip Planning
According to several market reports, 30% of travellers use smartphones or systems to plan their upcoming trips. And, 50% of travellers are not bothering about a guide for their trips as smart travel apps guide them in their entire journey.
A smart AI-powered travel app can plan according to your own choice, whether it is a romantic or adventurous trip. Various brands are investing in AI in travel and offering personalized services to their customers as per their needs.
The travel brands are investing in AI to provide customized trip planning services. The companies also offering complimentary services like food & drink, hospitality, etc., during their stay. Hence, AI allows travel agencies to provide improved service and thus attract many customers. AI technology in travel also offers customers many options to visit, try adventurous activities, and many more.
Travel requires repeated scrutiny of travel documents by different sets of people. There are complex embarkation and disembarkation processes (especially for cruise liners). Facial recognition technology promises to bring an end to these tiresome paper-bound processes. With facial recognition, travellers can seamlessly move through airports, immigration, customs and board aircrafts without the need for having travel documents scrutinized at each step. When combined with blockchain, it becomes easier for customers to visit restaurants, duty free stores or access entertainment with a simple facial scan. The blockchain technology ensures that reliable and trustworthy traveller data is made available to complete the transactions.
There are scores of social media listening tools. Of interest to the travel industry is a subset specifically engineered for travel applications. These tools decipher social sentiment and co-relate it to the traveller’s journey, whether before the actual travel, during travel or post travel. Is a travel customer frustrated because of a delayed flight or by a hotel room that is less-than-perfect? If the customer makes a social media post expressing the frustration, the listening tool analyzes the customer’s intent and the context to automatically reach out with real time interventions that are most likely to deliver a positive impact.
The interventions could range from providing additional information, helping the customer understand the situation to more options that can meet the customer’s requirements or offer him/her a discount on the next purchase. According to the Mindtree survey cited above, More than three quarters (77%) of respondents have had a bad experience with a travel provider. As a result, over a quarter (27%) never booked with that travel provider again. Of those who have had a bad experience with a travel provider, the majority (74%) report that the travel provider tried to redeem themselves. Providers that try to redeem themselves after a bad experience win back customer trust and repeat business. This can be augmented by AI-powered bots, which can parse through unstructured data and use natural language processing to respond appropriately to customer concerns on digital channels.
Flight price generation engine works according to certain rules. Machine learning is known for finding hidden patterns that a human’s eye might not even spot. For example, ML algorithm can detect anomalies after a big fare increase, taking into account a combination of features that caused such an increase.
Travel providers can help travellers find the best time to book a hotel or to buy a cheap ticket by leveraging machine learning. When the deal becomes available, the app will likely send notification to user.
Additionally if you repeatedly search for a flight or hotel for booking, you might experience a price hike. So, customers won’t prefer to book tickets at very high prices than usual. Here, AI-powered dynamic pricing tools help you better. Using predictive analytics, the tools analyze prices offered by competitors faster and quotes reasonable prices. Such a strategy might be helpful for travel agencies to catch more customers.
AI-powered models can empower sales managers on all the stages of sales funnel:
- Discovery phase helping customers find where to go
- Engagement phase by figuring out what option is best for each customer
- Conversion & Retention phases by working on crowdsourcing data
Travel history, previous behavioural patterns, purchase history and belonging to loyalty program – if such data is fed to AI- based system; it can help sales teams generate personalized travel packages.
AI & ML models can also help upsell / cross-sell products via the app. For instance, if the customer prefers driving a car on business trips and is looking for some hotel offers, the algorithm will get rental car offers out of the entire pool of suggestions.
AI tools that use natural language processing, computer vision and machine learning can analyse extensive data sets as well as various data sources in real time. On the basis of the data, the AI system can identify abnormal behaviours and create risk scores in order to build a full understanding of each payment transaction.
There are different types of fraud AI & ML can help travel companies to track:
- payment fraud when credit card information is stolen
- fake accounts creation
- content abuse (if they incorporate reviews and other user-generated content)
- account takeover (loyalty fraud)
By incorporating AI-enabled tools, travel companies will be able to decipher trusted payers from those who are not, detect anomalies with the high accuracy and speed, and therefore secure online transactions.
At AppleTech, we know a thing or two about AI implementations for the travel industry. We can help your business grow, too by building your travel company the perfect AI powered solution.
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