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Three Ways the Travel Industry will be Affected by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Next Few Years

 

My copreneur and I are now on a four-month long trip in Asia. We have often discussed that our trip would have been very different if we took it five years ago. The convenience and efficiency of Uber, Airbnb, and other travel tools make the experience so much better, easier, and more affordable. I believe that it is about to change even more thanks to chatbots and AI.

1. More Transparency in Search

 

The way customers will search for flights, accommodations, and car rentals will change. There will be few main chatbots (basically computer programs chatting to you) on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and WeChat that will assist in finding the best deals. This way, the customer will not have to check ten platforms but will for sure get the best deal in one place, saving time and money.

“Hi to me spending hours on Agoda, Booking.com, Skyscanner, Ctrip many and many hours in the past few months.”

Booking and payment will also be done in just a few clicks over Messenger and integrated payments, so the customer will have a fluent in-messenger experience.

2. Less Human Interaction and More Self-Service

 

Flying over Langkawi in Malaysia with AirAsia in November 2016 https://www.instagram.com/vtrmk/

 

Chatbots will give more options to the consumer to limit human interaction where it is not necessary and provide more self-service options.

We flew AirAsia a few weeks ago and noticed that customers did not need to go to the counter anymore to check in bags. Instead, they can do it at home or via a self-service kiosk at the airport. This saves time for both the customer and the airline. This method will be expanded further by allowing customers to check in bags through a chatbot.

There are already few chatbots by major airlines like Austrian Airlines and KLM. They allow customers to check the flight status, check in, and talk to their in-messenger customer support. This is a start, and I believe it will be extended further. I especially see big potential in the customer support hotlines of big airlines, which you can never reach.

“Hi to British Airlines hotline where I spent hours as a student trying to rebook my flight paying £1 per minute.”

3. More Authentic and Tailor-Made Experiences

 

The final thing that I think will change dramatically is your local interactions and experiences when you arrive at your destination.

In a recent interview, the VP of Product at Airbnb, Joe Zadeh, said that the company views chatbots as a great opportunity; however, technology cannot substitute for human interaction and experience with the locals.

“Hi to a weird Airbnb Host in Shanghai who I wish I did not have any human interaction with.”

View from our Airbnb in Shanghai — an experience https://www.instagram.com/vtrmk/

Joe Zadeh has a point that travel is all about the human experiences locally. In November, Airbnb made a huge update becoming a central place where you can book accommodation, experiences, and places all in one.

I agree with the statement and have really enjoyed discovering local cultures and hidden gems; however, I would be enormously thankful for chatbots if they could save me some time finding the places that fit my tastes and make the decision of which one to choose.

Zadeh also pointed out that in the case of Airbnb, chatbots can contribute to automating the parts that do not need to involve humans, such as creating a profile and finding a price (Airbnb introduced smart pricing based on AI not so long ago).

Key Conclusions

 

There are many changes coming up, and the travel industry has to start experimenting with the chatbots mainly because this is where their customers are at the moment.

After the first period of tests, real cases will start to emerge. Chatbots will both value to companies in the travel industries by reducing inefficiencies, and consumers will benefit from more authentic, easy, and convenient travel experiences.

Vladlena Taraskina
vtaraskina@gmail.com

Founder of botmanufaktur. Writing about chatbots, Artificial Intelligence.

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