Even before lockdown, the travel industry was going through a period of change, led by two driving forces: climate change and technological innovation. Now that we are stuck at home, we are dreaming about the pleasure and opportunities of travel and fantasising about what could be improved in the industry.
How our expectations are changing
The travel industry is now prepared for every traveller profile: hotels have offers that go above and beyond, Airbnb has transformed itself from two friends providing airbeds for people in their New York living room to an online marketplace that offers a broad range of accommodation, as well as tourism experiences. More adventurous travellers also have a full set of possibilities available with hostels, camping, glamping or the newer luxpedition.
But, even with so many options available, travel is still fairly anonymous as no one knows who you are, your habits and preferences. YouTube provides you with video recommendations based on your search history, Spotify does the same with music, but what about travel? If you’re particularly wealthy, you may get personalised recommendations. If not, you’ll just have to rely on friends, blogs and forums.
Most hotels offer a wide range of entertainment and meal choices as well as good room service around the clock. But is this what you’re looking for to make your stay outstanding? Would you not rather go on a holiday that’s personalised to your preferences?
While major tech firms have been investing in personalisation technology for over a decade now – think about your personalised Facebook News Feed or Netflix movie recommendations – a broader number of companies have recently also embarked on the endeavour. The travel sector, however, doesn’t seem to have started the full transition yet.
How AI, ML and Big Data will impact travel
Amazon is a pioneer of personalised product recommendations. Back in 2013, McKinsey stated that 35% of Amazon’s consumer purchases came from the company’s personalised recommendations. With their incredible personalisation progresses in AI, ML and predictive analytics, this percentage has surely increased since then.
For ASOS, the ML algorithm recommends which size the customer should choose for future purchases. It can even go one step further if the buyer is happy to share more insight into their height, weight, shape and fit preference, providing more exact recommendations with every purchase.
E-commerce paved the way to personalisation technology and travel brands have started using customer data, employing AI, big data, and ML. Skyscanner is a good example as its travel search technology enables it to suggest the cheapest flights everywhere in the world, with or without specific dates, using big data to find the lowest airfares.
One of the major advantages of AI is its ability to create personalised suggestions, which is particularly handy since we often find ourselves planning trips during our lunch break or when we’re exhausted at the end of a working day.
Mezi, the Travel-as-a-Service platform, uses AI to help travel providers improve their workflow. It helps enhance and automate travel bookings for corporate travel. It acts like a personal travel assistant and travel concierge using chatbots and travel dashboards to provide end-to-end booking services and data insights.
ModiHost, a hotel management system, brings the power of AI to take the hospitality industry to the next stage in its evolution, using AI to run hotels more effectively than ever before. Thanks to AI technology, Modihost creates an ad-hoc customer profile, making a guest feel special by predicting his needs and behaviour, and suggesting services automatically, therefore allowing hotels to increase their sales by up to 25% and improving customer experience. Additionally, it eliminates outdated procedures, reduces repetitive workload and raises staff efficiency, resulting in lower costs.
Why transitioning to tech is important
We’ve come a long way from the days of being placed on hold while the travel agent worked out the best flight deals. A Google Travel study states that 74% of travellers plan their trips on the Internet. Travel is going to be tremendously affected by technology progressing over the next 10 years. It’s safe to say that personalisation is the future of the travel industry.
Epsilon research indicates that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences and the number jumps to 87% when it comes to travel websites and apps offering a personalised selection.
Consumers are more informed than ever and expect brands to know exactly what they want and when they want it. If they fail, consumers will easily find a brand that can meet their high expectations. It is key that companies in the travel industry keep up-to-date with the emerging travel technology trends so as to avoid getting left behind by competitors.