How is Artificial Intelligence revolutionizing travel services?

Illustration by Tiago Galo
Gabby Nguyen | 3min read

In the 18th century, Captain James Cook, a British explorer, navigator and cartographer only made 3 journeys during his life. These journey took him several years to plan, prepare and budget. Back to the 1990s, people can never book a flight or a hotel room on the internet; while it only takes weeks, even a few days to plan for a trip thanks to the advancement of technology in today world.

Cheap flights, affordable hotel rates, and plenty of travel apps are allowing travelers to navigate their trip and travel more. According to Toward Data Science magazine, digital travel sales are predicted to reach $800 by 2020. Such apps as Kayak, Booking.com, and Expedia are recreating full-service experiences by using machine learning. Along with the increasing rivalry in the travel industry, there is also a rising number of travel agents applying AI in order to analyze large datasets and generate super personalized suggestions for the travellers and therefore, create competitive advantages.

1. Trip planning and Research

As stated by Booking.com surveys, mostly everyone is comfortable with having an online plan for their trip, or letting computers help them arrange the next journey based on available information. As a result, travel brands continuously utilize AI to create tailored recommendations based around a host of unique preferences. In 2018, TUI Group and AI-powered trip-planning service Utrip has launched a personalized trip planning service. According to Travel Tripper, this outstanding online tool asks travelers to rate their preferences across categories, including “Nature & Adventure,” “Food & Drink,” “Shopping,” and “Relaxation.” Utrip’s artificial intelligence algorithm then sifts through millions of potential combinations and serves up a personalized day-by-day itinerary for the entire trip.

Hubspot research has proved that 71% of people use chatbots to solve their problem fast. Chatbots are capable of supporting customers 24/7 with available answers for various ordinary questions such as “ What is the weather in New York next week?” or “When is the next flight to Canada”. Customers can also ask the chatbots complicated questions, for instance “ What’s going on in Paris?” or “ Where can I go with 200$?”. Kayak, a fare aggregator and travel metasearch engine which operated by Booking Holdings, has took advantage of chatbots to enhance travel experience. The bot will fully provide you with information on flights, rental cars, itinerary options and even recommend you some activities during the trip.

2.  Hotel Booking

Apart from familiar booking app such as Booking.com, Tripadvisor, etc., travel agents today generate a great deal of advanced booking tools. In fact, only one in twenty hotel bookers end up making a reservation. Customers afraid that the quality of these rooms will not meet their expectation. Therefore, Hospitality virtual assistants such as Hijiffy can help with this. Guests can ask Hijiffy questions, find out about hotel services, receive city tips, check the latest rates, and book a room. If Hijiffy can’t answer a question, it transfers the guest to a member of the hotel staff. Hijiffy can also learn from each interaction, so it knows how to respond next time without requiring human involvement.

Halo Travel is the first app allowing to book hotels and flights strictly through voice. This app was launch by WEX Inc, a global provider of corporate payments solutions and AI.io. According to Hospitality Technology, Halo Travel is a integrated application via Google Assistant, which is available for more than 500 million people. Users can simply say, “Hey Google, Talk to Halo Travel,” and their entire travel transaction can be processed through voice – without having to reach for a laptop. Halo Travel users can book flights or hotels quickly and efficiently. The intelligent AIs learn users’ travel habits and patterns in order to become an extreme personalized travel assistance. The result is an engaging, and speedy way to book travel on any devices at any time – and all you need is a voice.

3. In-room assistants

Artificial Intelligence is also applied in hotel room services. Chatbots and AI-powered voice assistants are able to enhance customer experience by answering guest questions, carrying out requests, and offering real-time recommendations. Las Vegas, a giant hub of opulent, posh world-class hotels, are known to offer exceptional luxury and customer experience. As stated by Hotel Speak, Wynn Las Vegas has made an announcement saying that it will integrate Amazon Echo to digitalize its 4,748 hotel rooms in order to offer their guests tremendous control over multiple facilities using their mere voice. It will start with controlling room lighting, temperature, TV, draperies, and they are likely to leverage Echo’s personal assistant services as well.

Edwardian Hotels offer AI chatbots for their guests. They can utilize hotel’s chatbot services to request assistance by typing the text message: “Edward”. Unlike other contemporary voice-activated assistants, Edward can guide guests to local restaurants, bars, famous spots and can also handle complaints.

As you can see, Artificial Intelligence now influences the entire travel industry. Chatbots are assisting travel bookers when they need flights and accommodation. Trip-planning platforms are able to adjust itineraries in seconds. And in-room assistants are learning about guest behavior and personalizing their experience. Artificial Intelligence and its development are able to make travel industry more flourishing than ever before. The key to success will be about using it wisely, and ensuring that it complements rather than replaces the personal side of hospitality.

Reference: Travel Tripper, Towards Data Science, Hotel Speak, CNN, Hospitality Tech, Forbes, Tech Rada.

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