01 Apr 2021 Business Insights

How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Affect the Travel Industry

Talk of artificial intelligence (AI) still manages to conjure up images of robots and sci-fi movies set in dystopian futures. But the reality is strikingly different, and 63 per cent of people don’t even realise they use AI in their day-to-day lives.

It’s become entrenched in our daily activities, from using voice assistants to travel map apps. And talking of travel, the travel and tourism industry is a sector that’s currently benefiting from artificial intelligence and machine learning.

How? That’s what we’re looking at in this article with the impact of AI and machine learning on the travel industry.

Chatbots and customer service

One of the most accessible AI representations comes in the form of chatbots, which are helping brands in all sectors of the travel industry. There has already been widespread adoption of chatbots, whether people use them to get more information before booking a holiday or companies implementing their use across social media apps.

Almost 40 per cent of businesses already use a chatbot in some capacity, and the number looks set to grow over the years. For travel brands, AI-enabled chatbots offer another layer to customer services, providing faster responses and getting people to the correct department sooner.

Estimates for hotel and flight rates

AI-powered tech helps provide a more seamless service to consumers who want to find the best hotel and flight deals. When searching for a holiday, travellers often find that rates vary depending on the supplier and the anticipation of a purchase. These changes happen frequently, and it’s impossible to track such changes manually.

Therefore, smart tools monitor the seemingly ever-changing rates of hotels and flights, sending alerts with attractive offers when something changes. Algorithms can understand past trends and alert customers to inform them about specific periods that might be busier – and therefore more expensive – than usual.

Content creation

Content plays a vital role in your marketing efforts, especially when it comes to enhancing brand-to-brand interactions. Imagery is a huge part of inspiring travel, and image recognition with machine learning can provide a better customer experience when it comes to interacting with holiday-style photos.

Tripadvisor, for example, realised it had loads of great photos on its website, but most of them were hard to find. So the engineering team set out to improve how photos display in different contexts. To do this, they used Deep Learning specialised in neural network architecture development and training to show attractive and relevant photos as a priority on the website.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) is becoming increasingly common in the travel industry and is helping to innovate the space. Through the use of headsets and our phones, VR allows travellers to teleport themselves to any country in the world.

It can redefine how we choose holiday destinations, giving people deeper insight into the attractions and landmarks in different countries. Imagine being able to put on your headset and transport yourself to the Colosseum in Rome. There’s nothing quite like the real thing, but VR tech offers the next best thing.

Augmented reality

Like VR, augmented reality (AR) also allows you to see things through different prisms. But this time, it can be implemented while you’re on holiday. AR can turn a static map application on your phone into a 3D guide, showing you where to find the nearest restaurants, shops and landmarks.

The tech can easily be used by hotels offering local services to customers or brands who want to create an entire AR experience for anyone travelling. From paper directions to map apps to fully immersive interactive maps that add another dynamic to holiday experiences, the evolution of how we find places is moving onto another level.

Data processing and analysis

While the majority of AI in travel benefits the customer, there are some uses that provide a B2B solution. One of the most popular implementations of the tech comes from gathering and interpreting data to make smarter decisions that impact customers for the better, as well as improve business strategies and pricing structures.

Artificial intelligence has the ability to sift through vast amounts of data quickly. Essentially, it can find a tiny needle in a giant haystack in a matter of seconds – something that might take humans days to uncover. The result is aspects like streamlining elements, for example, customer service feedback to build a better picture of customer opinions in real-time.

The future is here

Some parts of AI won’t really hit their stride for another few years, and the tech is always improving to provide better services for the way brands operate and what experience customers receive. But even in the present, AI is changing the way many travel brands work, offering a streamlined approach that allows businesses to refocus their efforts and continue striving to provide the best experience possible for their customers.