The topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be intimidating, but any travel advisor or supplier that wants to stay in the game in the long term or even into the near future needs to have a clear understanding of its applications in travel.
First, let us set the stage by noting that the rapid increase of AI-empowered systems has been bolstered by two core trends driving consumerism: 1) Customers expect to use digital processes in their daily interactions with companies, and 2) They are demanding improved and personalized customer experiences. Generative AI - a technology that uses machine learning and large language models to perform the functions of a human being in a fraction of the time - is stepping up to meet both needs. Here are some examples of how AI is being used in the travel industry today.
Data collection enhances customization
According to Google, more than half of U.S. travelers expect to receive tailored information based on their past preferences. Travel providers are, therefore, adapting and using customer data and analytics to provide the best possible experiences for their clients that are personalized.
By collecting customer data and combining it with powerful tools like predictive analytics, travel advisors and travel tech companies can better predict customer behavior and trends in the market. Thus, there is more opportunity to personalize travel options and provide an experience for the customer that feels more connected.
Chatbots provide personalized customer experiences
Travel advisors can use chatbots to provide personalized customer experiences to their clients while streamlining processes and saving time.
For instance, they can quickly create sample itineraries, including attractions and activities for clients. A travel advisor might prompt ChatGPT, for example, to create five sample itineraries for a 10-day stay in France for a foodie client that includes hotels, restaurants, cultural attractions, and a unique culinary experience such as a cooking class with a well-known chef or a luxury winery experience. Within minutes, the chatbot will deliver detailed itineraries, which the advisor can then review and amend using their own expertise to precisely meet their client’s needs and travel wishes.
Chatbots allow travel advisors to provide an elevated personalized experience by remembering preferences and automatically implementing them each time an individual books their next trip.
Ultimately, the degree of personalization can be expanded to encompass the entire travel journey from beginning to end - meaning that personalization for customers will not stop when they arrive in their destination or at their hotel, but will continue with other travel-related businesses such as restaurants they eat in, the bars and clubs, and shops they visit during their stay. To accomplish this, large amounts of customer data that reflect their past behaviors and preferences must be collected and analyzed. The result can be a network of travel providers that offer comprehensive customer service, including in-destination experiences.
AI customer service is convenient and efficient
Chatbots can also assist travel advisors and suppliers in providing convenient and efficient customer service. They use natural language processing (NLP) to accurately respond to and engage with users.
Customer service automated with chatbots can handle everything from pre-booking inquiries to post-booking assistance to in-destination support, making it easier for customers to get the help they need. Plus, research has shown that 65% of customers feel more connected to businesses that offer messaging options, and many prefer contacting businesses via chat.
Smart hotels give guests exactly what they want
Hospitality companies are increasingly using generative AI to improve the overall guest experience. By collecting customer data during their stay and processing it with AI machine learning, hotels can gain valuable insights into customer preferences and offer even more customized experiences during their stay.
In addition, automated AI-enabled concierge services are equipped with responses to thousands of guest questions, and can instantly handle tasks such as scheduling spa services, describing the venues’ wheelchair accessibility, or having items delivered to the room.
Smart hotels also offer AI-controlled rooms using AI, AR, or digital connectivity. Guests can make a simple request to play their favorite type of music, set the room temperature, adjust the firmness of the bed, and order room service or that special bottle of wine they most enjoy. And the system keeps track of guests’ choices and requests for future stays, as well as making additional suggestions that are in accordance with their preferences.
Explore AI now
The possible applications of generative AI for travel advisors and suppliers are endless, and they will continue to unfold in the coming years. For travel advisors, in particular, it would be wise to start now to become familiar with and explore its uses. Experiment with such products as Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, or Microsoft Bing’s Chat; or proprietary systems offered by suppliers. Don’t get left behind, as consumer-centric AI is transforming everyday interactions with travelers across the travel landscape. There is only one way forward, and that is with generative AI as an essential tool for every thriving travel business.
FROM THE SPONSOR:
“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and these new web-based products will assist them in helping their clients more effectively,” said Bertrand Sava, Hotelbeds’ Managing Director of Retail. “We have teams in every corner of the world to help our clients but our new chatbot, Olivia, means we can now serve them 24/7.”
Hotelbeds is a global leader in the TravelTech space, connecting and empowering businesses by facilitating bridges in the ever-changing and expanding travel ecosystem. Their cloud-based technology platforms offer fast and simple access to a global network of travel products, from accommodation to ancillaries and payments, while rich data and intelligence helps to generate demand. By operating exclusively in the B2B arena, they are uniquely placed to drive growth for their partners without competing for the end customer. Their teams of 3,000-plus experts on the ground provide local expertise and support to boost trading even further, even in the most hard-to-reach spaces. Their unique blend of technology, data, and passionate people serves as a catalyst for B2B travel players aiming to unlock their full potential.