Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized traditional procedures and greatly improved customer experiences, making it a crucial component of the travel and hospitality sectors. Significant advancements in AI have been made possible by recent developments in large data, algorithms, and computing power. In the hotel sector, technology has gradually displaced manual operations and gained ground. Because the hospitality sector has always been one of the first to accept new technologies, artificial intelligence is now essential in industrial settings where it helps and communicates with clients to improve the quality of engagement.
AI applications in the travel sector are multifaceted, offering users improved information access, enhanced mobility, better decision-making, and an overall superior travel experience. As the tourism sector continues to integrate AI and Machine Learning (ML) into its framework, businesses are leveraging these technologies for administrative efficiency and top-notch customer service. The travel AI market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global travel AI market is projected to exceed $1.2 billion by 2026. This growth is being driven by the increasing adoption of ML and AI technologies by travel companies, as well as the growing demand for personalized and convenient travel experiences from customers.
Innovative AI technologies have emerged, transforming the travel landscape. From Facial Recognition to Virtual Reality applications, Chatbots, and Language Translators, these advancements offer novel experiences to customers. Tourism and travel often involve encountering different languages, which can make tourists feel uncomfortable and anxious due to language barriers. When traveling, tourists tend to stick to franchises and known brands, thus missing out on exploring the local culture. However, automatic translation can help tourists navigate the destination, enabling them to explore and take part in all types of activities. Personalization can also assist tourists in discovering new places. Thanks to artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Natural Language Processing, automatic translation applications and simultaneous translation systems have become more efficient. Conversational systems such as chatbots and voice assistants utilize technologies like NLP and speech recognition to facilitate extended interactions related to information search. These systems are widely present as personal assistants in smartphones, home speakers (e.g., Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Alexa), as well as textual chatbots in websites and kiosks. They serve as a user-friendly reference point, requiring minimal effort for communication, and offering an experience aligned with natural human interaction.
Forecasting is a crucial technique that utilizes historical and contextual data to estimate future trends based on current patterns. This approach finds broad application across various industries, and AI algorithms are particularly well-suited for it, especially given the abundance of big data. In the tourism sector, forecasting is incredibly useful in understanding tourist demand, which can be used to develop effective marketing strategies, facilitate financial management and human resource allocation, detect scams in restaurants, and support facility management and maintenance needs. Cutting-edge travel apps that use AI-based methods empower us to forecast flights and other aspects of travel, such as hotel accommodations, offering innovative solutions that benefit travelers by identifying the most cost-effective options and providing insights into future flight costs. Travel assistants that leverage advancements in artificial intelligence, mobile devices, natural language processing, and speech recognition have become increasingly popular. These applications are designed to cater to user preferences, interests, and availability, offering on-demand or autonomous suggestions that proactively anticipate their needs. These systems go by different names, such as autonomous agents, intelligent travel agents, or smart concierges, and they enhance the travel experience through personalized and intuitive assistance.
Artificial intelligence has revolutionized tourist decision-making by shifting the focus from price considerations to personalized alternatives. Tourists can now choose destinations, places, and activities that best suit their preferences, thanks to AI's implementation of personalization techniques and recommender systems. These systems leverage the vast quantity of information available on the internet, including User-Generated Content (UGC), to provide more tailored and informed experiences. Travel assistants that leverage advancements in artificial intelligence, mobile devices, natural language processing, and speech recognition have become increasingly popular. These applications are designed to cater to user preferences, interests, and availability, offering on-demand or autonomous suggestions that proactively anticipate their needsvand they enhance the travel experience through personalized and intuitive assistance. These systems leverage the vast quantity of information available on the internet, including User-Generated Content (UGC), to provide more tailored and informed experiences. ServiceNow leverages generative AI to provide relevant, direct and conversational responses, seamlessly connecting interactions to digital workflows across the Now Platform. For example, when users inquire through Now Assist for Virtual Agent, generative AI quickly provides concise answers, supplying information such as internal codes for product and engineering teams, product media, document links, or relevant knowledge base article summaries. This ensures accurate conversations across departments and systems, improving productivity, boosting self-solve rates, and expediting issue resolution within ServiceNow. In today's technology-driven era, the increasing AI footprint in the hospitality industry is a positive development.
This indicates that the industry can make the most of the latest technology to enhance efficiency and productivity. Customers of the hospitality industry will benefit from improved levels of satisfaction. At the same time, tourism businesses will have better control over their processes. Business processes will be largely automated, and operations and protocols will become streamlined. New technological advancements optimize various travel-related processes, including communication, booking, check-in, room service, and security. Businesses and customers alike benefit from digitalization in terms of personalized experiences, flawless and speedy services, as well as reduced expenses.
Artificial Intelligence technology can transform the entire hotel room into a desirable tourist spot. After entering the hotel room, the customers can select the option to transform their entire room into their favorite destination. By selecting such an option, the entire room is transformed into a virtual 3 D world that resembles their favorite destination. The customer can experience the 3 D view of their destination inside the room. Future AI technologies may solve issues by incorporating more robust blockchain technologies that assure data privacy & security. In the future, we may see Robots serving hotel guests by directing them to their room, carrying their luggage, serving them food & snacks, housekeeping services, etc. This technology is currently used in a few hotels. In the future, the Visual Positioning System (VPS) may take over the Global Positioning System (GPS). VPS is an advanced technology that provides a live view of the real world & visual landmarks in front of travelers in the form of shops, companies, hotels, malls, cinema theatres, restaurants, canteens, recreational zones, etc., thereby providing Location-based experiences. There might be many more untouched and unexpected points related to service and customer touchpoints, where AI may be applied in the future.
The field of artificial intelligence is making rapid strides, but certain challenges still exist. Safety and security risks are significant concerns, particularly in sectors such as finance and the military. Smaller service providers may face cost barriers and the potential for disruption from malware attacks, necessitating careful consideration before adopting AI. However, in the hospitality industry, AI has had a profound impact, improving various aspects from room allocation to energy management. AI allows for personalization, forecasting, and even contributes to marketing and commercialization strategies, enhancing efficiency, productivity, and overall customer satisfaction. As technology continues to evolve, the rise of AI in hospitality signals an exciting future, with transformative changes that promise to reshape the way we experience travel and hospitality. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of AI-powered tools, making it essential for optimizing operations and improving user experiences. In conclusion, AI is driving significant advancements in the travel and hospitality industries, and we can look forward to a future of unprecedented growth and development.
-By Sanjay Devang, Operations Analyst, Sabre India