Be it cutting edge innovations in healthcare or improving predictive analysis across different businesses, AI and machine learning have become the catalysts driving transformation across industries. Travel industry has followed the suit and is not much far behind when it comes to the adoption of these emerging technologies. From recommendation, to forecasting, to personalised assistance, AI has seen varied applications in travel industry and its ancillaries.
The travel brands are extensively using AI technologies like ML and NLP to boost customer experience. These companies are mining the customer data and using AI driven analytics to predict customer behaviour and intent. The use of technology also comes handy in keeping the travelers abreast with updates in their travel schedule, improving their travel experience.
AIM lists down few uses cases where artificial intelligence has been used in the travel industry.
Making the right recommendations
Customised recommendation of services and products have become the norm for delivering a personalised customer experience. Right from companies like LinkedIn using machine learning algorithms to provide job recommendations to Netflix adopting it for better user engagement, AI has become the key in recommendation systems.
Online travel agencies have made use of AI and ML to bring an effective use of recommendation mechanism to deliver a good user experience over avenues like holiday packages, car rentals, hotels, and cruise lines, among others. For instance, Google Flights is using it to recommend ideal flights and fares based on comparisons between numerous third party service providers. It also has several customer friendly features such as ‘Date Tips’ that suggests cheaper airports and travel times depending on the customer’s destination.
Dynamic Pricing And Forecasting
This point ties in with recommendation. While OTAs make recommendations based on various factors, the most important factor is affordability. To keep a track of these changing prices and suggest the best price to a customer, AI can come handy. It forecasts where travellers would want to go and accordingly present ads that can cater to the various sections of customers. This has been made possible by predictive analytics developed on machine learning algorithms.
Global travel company, Amadeus, is one such example. It leverages AI to design custom travel offers for its customers. Amadeus combs through its customer’s activity on social media with their consent. It builds a complex model encompassing their purchase behaviors, interests, past travel information, loyalty programs, and likes among others. Using the accumulated data and ML, it pairs users with ideal offers based on the identified patterns from a broader community of customers. Hopper is another prominent startup, using data science to help people book the cheapest flights using applied predictive analytics.
Robotic Baggage Handling
One of the most effective use of AI in travel has been to bring robotics as a way to handle baggage. The smart use of artificial intelligence is expected to revolutionize the management of baggage over the next decade, promising to make mishandled bags an increasingly rare event for passengers globally. With increasing number of passengers, airlines have to deal with an increasing baggage, for which AI will come handy.
Leo, an autonomous baggage handling robot, created by SITA Labs can transport baggage within high traffic environments such as an airport with much ease. From collecting luggage from a traveler at the entrance to carrying it to the handling area, Leo can take care of the entire transportation process. Aiding Leo is Kate, a mobile check-in kiosk. Kate identifies the closest check-in stations and expedites the process. Both are equipped with obstacle avoidance technology. Leo participated in a trial at the Geneva Airport, and the two robots travelled around the world demonstrating their capabilities.
Virtual Assistance Through Chatbots
Chatbots have seen successful integration in fields such as banking, healthcare and education. Apart from facilitating real-time customer engagement, they are quite effective in responding to comments and queries,hence establishing better connection with the customers. Through the incorporation of ML and AI, they have grown to be more than just response generating programs. They are being used in travel industry to help travelers aid in planning and schedule management. Be it making suggestions on places to visit, or searching for ideal flights, or providing information on traffic, chatbots and virtual assistants form an important part of the travel industry now.
Hello Hipmunk, a personal virtual travel assistant from Hipmunk, has successfully merged with messaging platforms such as Facebook, Slack and Skype, and provides all round assistance to users. When asked a question, it accesses massive datasets of pricing, itineraries and room inventory, to provide instant and contextually pertinent advice. It also provides alerts based on preferences such as price. It delivers a personalised experience by remembering conversations about future travel plans, and shows suggestions for hotels and more on the tentative dates.
Scenario in India
Indian companies are not far behind in the adoption of new technology to provide better travel experiences. Instalocate, a chatbot service enables a smooth journey by predicting and providing contextual information about their flight details. A chatbot that can be used over Messenger, promises to watch all that for you by building a cutting-edge technology that can solve all your travel problems and make your journey comfortable. RailYatri is another Indian company that makes railway travel hassle free and easy for passengers. It is equipped with accurate location-driven algorithms to predict train arrival and mappings of train and bus routes enabling travellers to switch across the two modes while searching for seats. The adoption of AI in travel industry is opening new avenues for travellers to have a hassle free travel experiences, and we being tech enthusiasts look forward to more developments in the space.