Demystifying Emerging Technologies

Onward and upward– with the rise of artificial intelligence in travel

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is all around us. Countless applications are deploying techniques such as Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing to improve the performance of their travel solutions. Will AI augment human intelligence or replace it? How will AI improve the travel experience for all everyone? A session at the ITB Berlin Convention on ITB Marketing & Distribution Day (March 10) reviews various AI techniques with presentations from several travel solution providers using AI today, including a special presentation by Norm Rose, President, Travel Tech Consulting. We asked Norm to tell us a little more about his work in travel technologies.

I have been a consultant for 22 years. I launched the practice in 1995 with an underlying theme of “Demystifying Emerging Technologies of the Global Travel Industry”. Building on that theme I monitor and research general tech trends to determine their impact on the travel and tourism industries. The focus on emerging trends permeates all type of consulting projects ranging from work with tour operators, online and traditional travel agencies, traditional and emerging travel distribution platforms, startups, business/corporate travel, airlines, hoteliers and government entities.

What point are we at today when it comes to AI?

We are an early stage, but three specific AI initiatives – Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing, are becoming more common in travel solutions across all the industry segments. Machine learning is being deployed to collect and analyze search, booking and experience data by individual travelers and across similar travelers. Deep learning which uses machine learning techniques but is focused on a specific activity (such as Google learning the game GO) can help manage complex travel issues such as trip disruption. Natural Language Processing is enabling both semantic text search and voice interactions. Over the next few years these AI techniques will be imbedded in various software/online solutions. This includes AI that helps traditional offline travel agents to deliver smarter and more relevant content.

How does this apply today to hospitality and where will it be headed in the coming years?

By its nature, AI will help simplify and personalize the travel experience. Machine Learning helps software identify frequent behavior by a single traveler and across travelers delivering more relevant content. Natural Language Processing is enabling voice travel search and support. An example is implementation of Skyscanner with Amazon’s Alexa voice technology. Chatbots, also a hot trend, are more effective when AI is used to deliver more appropriate and personalized response. As AI technologies become more mainstream they are often no longer labeled as AI. Industry professional need to explore AI techniques such as machine learning, deep learning and Natural Language Processing to see how these tools can bring greater efficiencies and deliver more personalised services to their customers