Robots, chatbots and big data planners: How AI is changing the way we travel
Going on holiday can be a stressful experience – there’s so much choice when it comes to hotels and destinations, it’s not always easy to find a good deal, the plane or train might be delayed, you could get lost when you arrive…the list goes on! Despite all those fears, us Brits go on holiday three times a year on average. We love to travel, and the good news is, artificial intelligence (AI) is making it easier to do so!
It impacts almost every stage of your customer’s travel journey from booking to reviewing their holiday. Let’s take a look at how AI is becoming an essential tool for the travel industry.
The planning stage
Deciding where to go, especially when on a strict budget, can be the hardest part of planning a trip. It’s so stressful, that nearly one-third of travellers would be happy for a computer to plan their next holiday. Fortunately for them, such technology does exist.
AI-powered planners, such as Utrip, sort through millions of different options armed with a traveller’s interests and budget. In minutes, it creates a bespoke itinerary, complete with flights, accommodation, must-see sights, restaurants and more.
Travellers who know exactly where they want to go may instead be focused on getting the best deal. Apps like Hopper use big data and machine learning to tell travellers whether they should book their flights now or wait until prices fall further. It claims to be 95% accurate, and users can even sign up to receive notifications when the price of their flights falls.
Another application of AI that has had a big impact on the travel industry is chatbots. These virtual assistants are perfect for people who don’t have time to go into a travel agent or want to find and book flights quickly. Many of these chatbots, such as Skyscanner and Hijiffy’s Facebook bots, are fairly basic, but they can help speed up the booking process and answer simple customer questions.
During the trip
Once the plane has landed or the train has arrived, a traveller’s first port of call is probably their hotel, but is their room ready? Thanks to virtual assistants, guests at some hotels can ask questions and book services before they’ve even checked in.
Edward is a virtual assistant available to guests at the Radisson Blu Edwardian, London. Communicating via text, Edward gets in touch with guests to let them know he’s available throughout their stay. Guests can ask if their room is ready, find out what time dinner is and even book services, such as massages and room service.
Similarly, Hilton’s Connie is a robot concierge. She can help guests navigate the hotel, make restaurant recommendations and suggest places to visit during their trip. Connie isn’t designed to reduce hotel staff, but rather free them up to answer more complex customer queries.
Flight delays can cause havoc for travellers. Fortunately, AI can help with that too. Last year, Google Flights introduced a free service that allows people to check flight times and receive alerts if their flight is likely to be delayed, before any official announcement is made by the airline. Google only alerts users if the AI is 80% certain the flight will be delayed.
Once they’re home, travellers will probably be keen to leave a review of their trip, especially if they had a particularly amazing experience. Once they’ve left the review, it’s your travel business that really benefits, as you get access to invaluable insights into what travellers really think of your service. But did you know AI can help take that one step further?
Tools like Feefo’s Performance Profiling automatically highlight trends in your customer feedback and tell you which aspects of your service you need to improve, and the aspects you should be promoting. Using machine learning, Performance Profiling looks at the sentiment (emotion) behind each review, rather than the star rating, letting you make more informed decisions on where to focus your efforts to improve the experience for travellers.
Find out more about our AI technology
Travel businesses all over the world are adopting AI tech to improve their services and increase customer loyalty. If you’re not using it, you might be left behind.