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Maciej Szymczuk
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USA

(+1) 929 262 9149

maciej.szymczuk@softwarehut.com


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Gone are the days when customers would have to spend hours looking for flights or hotels for their next trip. Nowadays, all they must do is to ask Siri, or check one of the many online portals, such as Skyscanner.
Your clients will no-longer need to call customer service, or wait in long check-in queues, either. They can do it through a Facebook Messenger bot or through a live-chat on the airline’s website.  Solutions that make travelling a seamless experience are possible with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Currently, many exist, with more in development. It bears enormous implications on changes to the way the travel industry operates, saving your customers time and money on mundane tasks.  The question is how you too can adapt to these changes and use AI to the competitive advantage for your business. 

The importance of AI  

It’s not only the travel industry which benefits from AI which is being introduced more and more widely in everyday life. Chatbots, data analysis, facial, image, and speech recognition – these are just a few examples of AI implementations.  What’s more, artificial intelligence is more than just another buzzword in the tech world. AI implementations have already become a part of the business landscape: 
  • 38% of customers believe that AI has the potential to improve customer service, a Pega study says. 
  • A study by Oracle found that 80% of marketing and sales leaders already use or plan to use chatbots by 2020. 
  • For 84% of businesses surveyed by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review, AI is a way to ‘sustain or obtain competitive advantage. 
The tone of industry reports has changed over the years from sceptical to promising. As AI technology improves, more and more businesses feel confident about taking advantage of it.   The travel industry is no different. 

How Does the Travel Industry Benefit from AI Implementations?  

There are many examples of AI implementations – from airlines’ websites, social media profiles, and web scraping, to Big Data and robots.  Here are some examples: 

1. Chatbots and Online Customer Service

As of December 31, 2018, there are over 2.3 billion Facebook monthly active users (MAU). This does not to account for all other social media platforms and online messengers. It’s obvious for brands to try to cash in on such a vast network of potential customers. Today, with AI-powered chatbots, you can get closer to your target audience than ever-before.  Chatbots help consenting customers solve common travel-related issues. Whether it is getting information, booking a flight, or checking in – bots can help with these tasks right away. This solution saves you money on customer service, improving response rates and client satisfaction for your brand.  KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ chatbot BB (short for Blue Bot) is an example of such implementation. BB can book a flight, find a destination or help with packing a bag. For users’ convenience, it’s available through Facebook Messenger or Google Assistant.  Another chatbot developed for an airline is the British Airway’s Messenger bot. It offers flight recommendations, booking confirmations, and hotels or events discounts. What’s more, it’s capable of supporting multiple languages.  As a part of online customer service, chatbots help airlines to reduce the time spent on helping customers. Their users, on the other hand, can get the information they need at their greatest convenience.  What’s important, Facebook Messenger chatbots can be fully GDPR compliant. You can include necessary user opt-ins for consents or an option to unsubscribe. As Facebook adapts to data management and processing policies, it allows for adjusting your business’ bot to regulations by including required forms.

2. Face-to-face Customer Service

Introduction of robots is one of the ways to ensure an automated process remains personal.   Meet Connie, Hilton’s smart robot concierge. She’s responsible for providing tourists with the information they seek. Based on artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, Connie improves with every interaction. This way, the robot learns from helping tourists, providing a better experience over time.  Connie is based on IBM Watson, a suite of enterprise-ready AI solutions. It helps companies to make use of user data to improve customer engagement and solve complex problems.   Robots like Connie can help with reducing the time travellers spend queueing. This way, AI increases the efficiency and speed of your business’s customer service. 

3. Data Processing and Data Analysis

As companies are now able to gather huge amounts of data, there is a need to manage and analyse it. One of the related problems is time, as for humans it’s a time-consuming and arduous task. The AI is of much help when it comes to sorting through huge amounts of data quickly and accurately.  Web scraping is one way to automatically collect various data, process it, and submit the required information. It is being used by travel websites to aggregate the data from numerous sources.  For the travel industry, it’s crucial to be able to provide users with up-to-date information about flights, hotels, and events. Even 62% of travellers research such information online, study shows. Data scraping, processing, and analysis is a way to make this possible.  Taking advantage of the data you can collect based on your users’ behaviour provides insights about their preferences and helps you provide more relevant offers.

4. Machine Learning

You already know how travel websites and companies collect and process Big Data using modern algorithms. But how to make sure that what your users see on your website is what they really want?  Machine learning helps companies like trivago personalise their digital experience. Natural language processing (NLP) algorithms can, for example, scan hotels’ websites for user reviews. Combined with search analysis, an algorithm can then show users a customised offer.  Such offers help travellers to make a final decision, meeting their needs and expectations. In effect, the choice isn’t that overwhelming anymore.

5. Automated Content

AI and machine learning can be helpful in translating content like hotel descriptions into many languages. Instead of hiring translators to do the work, travel companies or sites like Booking.com make use of the AI instead.  What’s more, it opens the door for automated content creation of personalised descriptions.  Digital footprints users leave while searching for flights, hotels, or rental cars, allow AI to assume, e.g. the budget and user interests. Based on that, it’s possible to present customers with what seems like a tailor-made offer, encouraging them to buy a trip. 

Don’t Get Left Behind by the AI Revolution 

Artificial Intelligence changes the way the travel industry operates. With chatbots being more common, machine learning and NLP algorithms scraping data, in addition to robots serving as hotel concierges, there’s no turning back for the travel companies.  The benefits include competitive advantage through engaging customers with offers they’re willing to buy.  At SoftwareHut, we know a thing or two about AI implementations for the travel industry.  Our team helped Skyscanner develop their multi-billion-dollar business and supports the likes of rydoo, Voyager HQ, Paxport and others in your vertical.  We can help your business grow, too. Estimate your project with us. 

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Technology & Digital Economy Analyst

Max shares information. He provides much-needed insight and perspective regarding tech, and its modernising role in the global economy. An Industry 4.0 specialist, he boasts a background in Digital Marketing & Analysis spanning the China, APAC, CEE, and the whole world in-between.

When you don’t find him briefing on trends analysis, you’ll find him long-distance trekking through the forests. If that fails, you’ll find him speaking on his talk show, or hosting meetups.

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