Excerpt from TechRadar
The travel industry is undergoing an AI transformation
Where are you? If you don't know, it's likely that the artificial intelligence (AI) in your pocket does. From Google Maps and voice assistants to the scores of travel apps that make online booking easy and instant, AI is grabbing hold of the travel industry – and it's not letting go. There is a simple reason for this; the internet has made booking flights, hotels and rental cars a wholly online experience. So there's now big data on all of our travel habits, and it’s allowing AI algorithms, customization and chatbots to spread.
The AI opportunity
However, the travel industry does need to be careful not to go overboard with AI and chatbots.
“As we operate in an industry that is incredibly personal, emotional and complex, maintaining the right balance between genuine human interaction and efficient automation is something we're always trying to fine-tune and optimize throughout every stage of the consumer journey, " says James Waters, Global Director of Customer Service at Booking.com. His company found that 80% of customers prefer to self-serve in order to get the information that they need. So, with the help of AI, why not let them?
Online booking is easy; you click on what you want to do, type something, then tap 'search'. Actually, we're in the dying days of the 'click-type-tap' pattern, according to Skyscanner, which is moving to answering questions via messaging platforms and digital assistants. In 2016 it became the first travel search engine to create a skill for Amazon’s Alexa voice service, and soon followed it up with Microsoft’s Cortana. Now it's got a bot for Facebook’s Messenger platform, and a group chat travel search bot on the Skype Bots platform. The latter informs the user when prices change on selected flights, and also allows complex itineraries to be shared via both the Skype and Facebook bots.