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Industry News: How Artificial Intelligence Will Affect Travel Retailing

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Industry News: How Artificial Intelligence Will Affect Travel Retailing
Wait for it because it is surely coming! Artificial Intelligence will disrupt every business sector, and travel will not be spared either. Start getting ready now!
I

n technology circles, the new buzzword is “Artificial Intelligence” or simply “AI”. The last few years have seen breakthroughs in the field triggered by the explosion of data due to high internet penetration, cheap smartphones, social media and cloud computing. Scientists now have a great resource from which they can train their AI algorithms.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of a computer software (algorithm) to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence. Such tasks include visual perception, decision making, speech recognition, and translation between languages.

Areas of Travel Retail that Will Be Affected By Artificial Intelligence

1. Virtual and Augmented Reality

This should worry every travel agent. If a computer scientist can recreate the Australian Barrier Reef using an AI, and offer the experience of the Barrier Reef right from somebody’s living room, what would motivate a young person to spend money on the tiring trip to and from Australia?

Advantage

This will push you to get creative with how you package your travel destinations. You will have fewer competitors since not all travel agents can create travel packages that can outshine virtual reality.

Disadvantage

Travel agents will have a very hard time convincing young travelers that travelling is better than virtual and augmented reality.

2. Seamless Security

If you procure visa on behalf of your clients, then this revenue stream may be threatened by the facial recognition AI.

Advantage

You no longer have to waste time negotiating with rude visa office bureaucrats.

Disadvantage

Visas are used to keep off bad elements from entering a country. If a government can get an AI system that can scan faces and flag people posing security risks, why would they invest in an expensive and time wasting visa and passport regime?

3. The Sharing Economy

Uber and AirBnb are the best examples of the sharing economy that is powered by smart AI systems. Websites such as Trip Advisor have also brought the wisdom of the crowd so that travel customers can decide on the best property to book.

Advantage

Imagine the money you will save, and how little you will hassle procuring transportation or shared houses for your group travelers.

Disadvantage

If property owners can link directly with travelers using AI systems, why would they need a travel agent? If a traveler just needs an Uber app to get ground transportation, why would they need a travel agent to manage their transport?

4. Selection of Travel Packages

How do you get ahead of your competitors when it comes to travel packages selection?

Advantage

There are AI algorithms that scour the internet for packages similar to yours. They will then give you advice on how to price and package your deals and how best to reach your targeted customers.

Disadvantage

Unfortunately, your competitors will also have the same information and thus you will have to personalize your services to outcompete them on stellar customer care.

5. Booking Flights, Hotel Rooms, Sightseeing Destinations etc.

Today, there are intelligent AI systems that have automated the above and many other tasks.

Advantage

As the AI systems become better, you will need to disengage from routine tasks and do something that the AI systems cannot do. Your human skills such as empathy, love, and ability to make someone feel special will become important.

Disadvantage

You will lose the revenue you get from booking on behalf of your customers.

6. Communicating Travel Packages to Potential Customers

If you are yet to integrate your website with social channels regularly haunted by your target market, then you are already losing business.

Advantage

Social platforms such as Facebook already have advanced AI systems that can help you reach your target audience by carefully selecting the channels and pages your potential customers use.

Disadvantage

Some websites such as Facebook has tweaked their algorithms to disadvantage organic reach. If you want your ad to be effective, you will have to pay them.

7. Website Optimization

Website optimization is a great tool for attracting more leads to your travel services. AI is proving better at this task than humans.

Advantage

Testing and hypothesizing the best way to get more traffic to your website is done by smart algorithms. Every time a customer visits your website, the AI will change and adapt your lead generation probability models.

Disadvantage

Using AI to optimize your website cuts personal contact between the travel agent and his clients.

8. Dynamic Pricing and Forecasting

You will need to change your pricing matrix as soon as your competitors change theirs otherwise your business will not attract customers.

Advantage

Prices change every day and it is just impossible for a human to keep up. Using AI algorithms will help you price your travel packages competitively.

Disadvantage

If your AI algorithm was trained using non-factual data, then your AI pricing matrix will also be wrong.

9. Intelligent Travel Assistants

Copying the model of Apple’s Siri, travel agencies that do not adopt the chatbot technology may be left with high costs of paying travel assistants.

Advantage

An AI travel assistant never asks for leave, a raise or for time to rest. It will be there 24/7 and will interact with your customers seamlessly and intuitively.

Disadvantage

The chatbot technology is not yet advanced enough to replace travel assistant.

Conclusion:

There will probably be a lot of disruptions in the next 20 years courtesy of AI. The best strategy is adopting AI systems early lest your competitor adopts the technology and gets an upper hand.

We at Travel Agency Tribes are technology consultants to travel agents. We are proactively studying the emerging AI-driven technological shift in the travel industry in order to advise our clients on the best ways to adopt the technology. Our development team will make sure you are not caught off-guard by the coming wave of AI. Click here to talk to our consultants.


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