Remember the days of tourism when travel around the world was booked through travel agents, managed with guidebooks in hands, with pictures taken through film cameras and preserved in photo albums for posterity. Fast forward to today- with social media handy, pictures of our holidays are put up almost real time on Instagram and complaints about delayed flights are madeon Twitter and Facebook.
With travel & tourism industry contributing to 10.2% of the world’s GDP in 2016, as per World Travel & Tourism Council, the future looks even more appealing for the tourism sector. Organisations in hospitality and airline industry are leveraging technologies like AI, Machine Learning and even Virtual Reality to enhance customer experience. For example, Hotel chain Palladium no longer has paper brochures; instead, the travel agents are equipped with virtual reality headsets to provide a virtual tour of hotel amenities to their clients.
Further, there are a few other hotels which are making significant investments in AI-driven products. For example, Starwood Hotels have invested around $50 million over past three years to develop an analytics engine to alter hotel pricing rates on the fly. This AI-based engine has improved demand forecasting by 20 percent since 2015 for Starwood Hotels.
Some hotel operators like ‘Dorchester Collections’ have even altered their breakfast menu after its AI engine analysed guest reviews and came up with customizing options suitable for guests with different tastes.
Some tech consultancy firms are also offering luxury hotels innovative products and services. For example, French tech firm Altran, which primarily targets luxury hotels, has developed intelligent lock which operates via the WhatsApp application on the client’s phone. Interestingly, they have even developed mattress equipped with sensors, which records the movements of customers, which could prompt hotel staff to offer them a coffee when they wake up.
Apart from hotel chains, even airlines are leveraging AI technologies to develop safer and more efficient solutions. For example, airlines are adopting Runway Overrun Prevention Systems (ROPS) that assist pilots to make safe decisions while landing an aircraft. With the help of AI, the system can predict the weather conditions en-route to the destination. If the weather conditions are adverse, the system suggests alternate routes to reach the destination.
With AI making its impact across diverse sectors, industries in travel & tourism sector are also on the verge of transformation. However, in many developing economies, with affordable labour and poor technological infrastructure, it will be interesting to see how AI can contribute and enhance tourism experience in such economies.
Credits : Akhil Handa,Manish Kulkarni