December 5, 2017, by Gilad Berenstein, CEO of Utrip
Whether analyzing booking behavior patterns or highlighting the process of decision-making for a specified demographic, artificial intelligence has begun to play a larger and larger role in the world of travel. It takes unpredictable and fragmented data and puts a rhyme and reason to it.
We have seen the AI movement almost everywhere, but travel has always proven to be a unique business. There’s a ton of data, and while AI is tracking every plane seat and every purchase, there is still a lot left to be desired.
Travel is Unpredictable
Travel remains one of the most unpredictable industries because many things impact what happens, including weather, geopolitics and events like cultural festivals or sports. While some may enjoy going on the same trip to a cottage in the Smoky Mountains every year, others love the challenge of doing something wildly different. It can make understanding the statistics complicated, because you have a lot of tedious details to analyze and comprehend. That's where AI can play a role.
What Artificial Intelligence Offers Consumers
First, artificial intelligence can help place more relevant content in front of travelers. How does it work? AI combines the gigantic stores of historical data, predictive analytics and events to meaningfully predict where travelers may want to fly and what they may want to do. Systems can automatically generate a personalized advertisement to potential customers to help companies boost sales and conversion rates.
Some companies have employed AI technology as a means of personalizing travel packages to specific users. They can scan through social media activity to build a sophisticated model of likes, interests and a social graph. The AI also looks at past travel patterns, purchase history and whether the traveler belongs to any loyalty program. By looking for a common thread from the wider community, systems can match travelers with relevant offers.
How Artificial Intelligence Helps Corporate Travel
AI isn’t just transforming the consumer experience. It’s also affecting corporate travel, getting used by travel agencies as well as the companies that make bookings. In 2016, Tradeshift, an enterprise procurement software company, bought Hyper Travel, an AI-based travel assistant. Tradeshift’s new service uses a combination of “machine learning and human intelligence to provide a useful experience for businesses.” The system can manage bookings, payments and corporate approval through an easy-to-use messenger interface. Artificial intelligence is solving pains—including fraud and inefficiency—that have long been issues in corporate travel. Employees have an easier buying experience, and employers feel confident that the numbers have been taken care of.
AI in Customer Service
To make for a smoother stay while traveling, Hilton Hotels have employed IBM's Watson to help travelers through a travel buddy called Connie. This tool will provide travelers with essential information to help them have the best experience possible. Connie listens, learns and adapts while improving her recommendations by looking at data patterns. Over the long term, Connie will lead to a more personalized traveler experience.
Artificial intelligence is clearly revolutionizing the travel industry. The technology is helping to improve efficiency, automate data collection and increase the level personalization companies can offer. Travel brands that aren’t currently considering AI initiatives need to change that, lest they risk falling behind.