Artificial intelligence (AI) is present in many aspects of our lives. As the technology develops at a rapid pace, more and more organisations are looking at how it can be used in their industries.
Research carried out by the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that 70% of businesses will be using at least one type of AI by 2030. But what does this mean for the travel industry and how are travel companies using AI technology?
Across the travel sector, many companies are looking at the ways AI can improve their customer service and simplify booking processes for clients.
One of the ways AI is currently being used in travel is through the implementation of chatbots and messaging tools.
For example, tour operator Tui is trialling the chatbot ChatGPT to boost bookings on its mobile app. It is also offering bookable excursions with live inventory.
Meanwhile, software platform Eviivo has launched an AI-powered messaging tool for small hotel owners and people who rent out their properties through platforms such as Airbnb.
The app answers questions based on pre-programmed information about the accommodation, helping property owners to save time and guests to receive information quickly and efficiently.
In the future, AI could help travel companies become more sustainable. Cruise specialist Mundy Cruising predicts AI will be able to plot the most fuel-efficient sailing routes and help design the most efficient ships possible.
AI is also “reshaping the operational side of booking travel”, according to Jon Pickles, chief revenue officer at travel technology firm Inspiretec.
“With AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants, companies can provide swift, 24/7 customer support, ensuring the booking process is smoother and queries can be resolved promptly,” he explains.
Despite the adoption of these new technologies, experts are convinced that they can be used to enhance roles in the travel industry, rather than replace them.
Inspiretec’s chief executive, Simon Powell, said at an industry event that ChatGPT is “a game changer, but it isn’t going to replace the travel agent”.
And while the technology is still developing, the opportunities are there to help it take shape.
is a customer service agent at Trip.com
“I started at Trip.com in September 2022. The travel industry was a new frontier for me, but I had no doubt I was on the right path due to my passion for travel and providing exceptional customer service to our global clientele.
“Growing up with parents from different countries and experiencing life abroad has fuelled my desire to unite people through travel. Travel is a deeply personal experience, and it has become even more intriguing with the advent of AI. It’s not just a passing trend – it’s here to stay. AI is transforming the travel sector in countless ways, fundamentally reshaping how people plan, book, and savour their journeys.
“At Trip.com we firmly believe AI will enhance customer service and make travel more personalised. It’s about empowering travellers to make well-informed decisions, discover new adventures and navigate the complexities of travel with greater ease and efficiency.
“For those contemplating their career path, consider the travel industry, even if it feels unfamiliar. This is where you can embrace challenges, harness the power of technology and AI, and actively contribute to shaping how people explore the world.”
is a machine-learning scientist at Expedia Group
“I oriented my studies towards machine learning, taking a deep dive with a PhD. Upon completion, I joined Expedia Group, where I design machine-learning algorithms for recommender systems to help travellers find the most relevant properties for their trips.
“I chose the travel sector because it spoke to me, as a globetrotter. My role has evolved since I joined five years ago. I got more and more ideas on what to do and the firm let me lead and mentor other people to allow us to accelerate our projects and multiply our impact.
“A few examples of the problems we look at are how to personalise the order in which properties are displayed upon search, considering the travellers’ past interactions with the website, optimising for objectives including relevance, diversity of the recommendations, as well as the long-term relationship with travellers and our partners, while dealing with huge volumes of data.
“If you’re thinking of a career in the AI field, be sure to understand the fundamentals so you can grasp the building blocks of state-of-the-art models when they come up, whether it be generative AI or other technologies.”Credit: Lorene Creuzot