Using Artificial Intelligence in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality Industry
AI, ML and Data Science are already defining the way we travel today
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a buzzword for recent years and it has impacted many business sectors including banking, agriculture, manufacturing and retail, many sectors have benefited by Artificial Intelligence.
The concept of artificial intelligence has existed earlier, evolved over the years and has no straightforward definition. We invented computers to execute tasks and programming languages to define tasks. AI is an evolved technique to train a machine to take certain decisions and execute tasks. Basically AI refers to a mechanism performing tasks on behalf of human beings that would normally require human intelligence to carry out. The tasks could be learning instructions, processing data, taking decisions, or listening and interpreting communication.
Understanding AI with real life examples
When we talk about AI, we talk about automation, where processes are executed with little or no human involvement. And the application of AI can be found in simple everyday examples like a face reorganization based screen lock on a mobile device to a automatically dimming room light sensing the surroundings or a app suggesting a particular product based on your product search trail in the past and purchase history.
With growth of search engines, ecommerce and social platforms, companies started collecting, storing and processing huge size of useful data. The data in form of text, audio and video is further used to enable AI which perform tasks like query analysis, giving personalized solutions, resulting in a seamless customer journey.
AI, a genie for all
AI can be used by manufacturing sector to fine-tune and automate subtasks involved in processes like procurement, production and distribution. Marketing & Sales function can use AI powered intelligent dashboards to rollout fine tuned campaigns, get deeper market, consumer persona, trends related insights.
Imagine a AI powered sales PitchBot which readies itself based on a data set related to the prospect available on internet and pitches appropriate product and fine tune recommendations on the fly, just like an expert salesperson.
AI can handle post sales and service function effectively by managing customer expectations, responding to queries, giving solutions resulting in reduction of ticket size and increased customer satisfaction and retention.
AI & Travel Industry
Travel industry is one of the industries leveraging the transformational benefits of AI at a larger extent and there are many areas in a customer journey it can be implemented.
As per a report by Deloitte, the size of Travel, Tourism & Hospitality industry is 1.6 trillion USD in 2017 and the industry contributes 10.4% to the world’s GDP. Looking at the size and growth of this segment, it is logical to experiment a newer technology like Artificial Intelligence across the consumer journey and touch points in this segment to enhance overall experience and revenues.
But if we look at the use of AI in travel sites and apps, apart from chatbots and online helpdesks, it is evident that the use of AI in travel and tourism industry has to see a long way.
Few AI implementation use cases in Travel industry
As per web trends and statistics, a large set of user journeys may start on a laptop, but the purchase is being completed on smartphones. The multiple device use gives large datasets to AI bot to analyze and recommend personalized packages to the targeted audience.
We can look at AI implementation to help in making travel experience targeted to niche groups of travelers. A TravelAgentBot can scan a traveler’s profile with data related to their preferences, budget, location, eating habits etc gathered from internet and suggest a customized personalized travel package.
A customer service AI infused bot can even guide a customer to choose his next destination to travel to with assistance to mode of travel, choice of rooms and overall cost estimates or even apologize for a service deficiency and take steps for service recovery and issue a ticket for internal audit or even accept payments related to membership.
3. Inroom Alexa
With increasing popularity of AI and IOT powered technologies, by now Alexa has become a household name. With Alexa Amazon’s developer community provides a set of built-in capabilities, referred to as skills. For example, Alexa's capabilities consist of playing music of choice from various sources, answering queries and giving weather information etc. These skills can be further customized to build application specific skillsets.
A customized Alexa dot can be placed in each hotel room which can be used by guests to plan a day, a spa session, dine and outdoor activities with live consultation and updates from Alexa. The guest doesn’t need to ring the reception at all.
4. A marketer’s Genie
Artificial Intelligence helps a marketer to define pricing strategies, destination specific package rates etc by analyzing wide-ranging datasets. AI enables such revenue sensitive decision making process easy. By predicting well, AI allows businesses to fine tune promotional campaigns, boost conversions and make better revenues.
By implementing AI system, the marketing team can easily churn thousands of online customer reviews to find out choices of the customers. With AI, the marketing team can make strategic decisions about guest behavior and automate various processes for increasing business performance.
5. A Reputation Genie
In today’s social world, managing brand ORM, reputation is a key responsibility of every business. It is easy for a customer to go on social platforms and share his/her opinion about a brand based on experience which instantly reaches a sizable audience and prospective customers. So it is important to keep a check on what customers say about your business. A single negative review by a customer can cause serious damage to the online reputation of your brand.
Using artificial intelligence, the brands can monitor customer sentiments in real time. A customized AI bot can enable a brand to parse through unstructured data like social media comments, comments on products/services, and other mentions about the brand by using natural language processing take relevant action related to service recovery.
6. A pricing bot
In travel and tourism industry, a dynamic pricing plays a major role in understanding market trends and update room rates, package and ticket prices to optimize revenues.
AI based pricing bot can use predictive analytics of variables like data on competitive prices, weather, user’s booking pattern, occupation data, room types, daily rates and other variables. Such bots can be defined to operate automatically and revenue managers can also refer the dashboards and fine tune the rates manually if required.
7. Personalization of the CX (Customer experience)
Many large ecommerce companies have built their websites and apps using AI infused online marketing cloud technology solutions provided by companies like Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle and IBM.
With a marketing cloud, the platform enables a marketer to build a website, integrate analytical tools, social media listening tools, tools building a persona based profiling of customers to enable a personalized customer experience.
With such platforms, a brand can track customer behavior, collecting, including individual data like earlier purchases, searched destinations and other historical data. This data is further used in detailed segmentation of the customer to serve appropriate user experience in real time, as per the category a user belongs to. Such dynamic personalization of CX has already resulted in increased revenues in case of many brands in travel segment.
8. Enhancing a stay with AI
Apart from planning a holiday, dine and outdoor activity with an in room with help of a Alexa dot, guests can set room temperature, adjust the light or turn the TV on and off. Facial recognition can be used to speed up registrations and make the check-in and check-out process more easy and safe.
AI, Machine Learning and Data Science are already defining the way we travel now and how we will travel in the future.
All depends on us to understand the power of this genie and use it in more innovative ways to give optimum customer experience, efficient service delivery and increased profits and revenues!
By, Atalbihari Baddar