Travel has become a mainstay in American society. Whether traveling abroad or exploring the best places to live in California, today’s technology has become one of the more important companions for people on the go. Fortunately, technological advances have created computer systems that learn about their users needs, wants and desires quickly so they may provide the information needed with more accuracy than ever before. Those systems are termed artificial intelligence (AI).
Many people don’t realize the level of involvement AI has in everyday life. After shopping for a particular item on the web, few people even notice that the ads popping up in the margins of every site accessed thereafter will reflect prior searches on that type of product. For example, if you shop for a dress or business suit and later check your email, the ads that are displayed in the margins will be related to clothing, shoes and accessories until your next shopping search.
The Reasoning Behind AI
When you travel AI works the same way as it does after shopping online. When using the global positioning system (GPS) on a SmartPhone, for instance, suddenly information about eateries, gas stations, hotels, entertainment and a whole host of other information you need to know while you’re on the road will be displayed. For the travel industry the system is turning into a windfall as they learn to utilize the growing amount of data generated, collected, collated and then displayed through the use of algorithms designed to keep computer users informed on topics of interest.
The Big Data Revolution brought about a change in the way machines were designed to “think” more like humans. The human brain has the unique capability of interpreting the world it’s exposed to then using the information to effect change. It can think deductively, creatively and abstractly and “learn” along the way which gives it the ability to perceive the environment then take actions that maximize the chance of success at a given goal.
The Power Behind AI in the Travel Industry
When planning a trip, rather than having to do an expanded search each time for each site, how would you feel if your search engine could provide you with options that fit your past search history?
- It could provide you with seats you prefer together on an airline you have a frequent flier membership with that includes free baggage.
- Then it could recommend your accommodations at your favorite resort near the activities you prefer with a king-size bed in a non-smoking room that includes a free breakfast.
- Finally, it could provide the activities you prefer to do at the times and places you prefer and all based on your past history.
Best of all, once you get there your SmartPhone will automatically download the GPS information needed to get you everywhere you need to go.
AI Travel of the Future
More and more travel sites are now incorporating AI technology into their programs. AI allows the machines to learn about their users preferences then analyze large amounts of data not only to meet those needs but also to learn on their own. Greg Oates, Senior Editor of Skift, recently stated, “The holy grail for travel brands today is personalizing the guest experience. Artificial intelligence really helps with that because it can crunch so much data and connect dots around users so much faster than a traditional search.” In that way, the machines can anticipate users choices before a search has even begun.
The new travel AI has now gone even farther than ever before. Machines now not only take into account users past preferences but their habits and conversational tone as well. In that way, travel sites can now skew the suggestions presented to include those the user showed preferences for in the past. AI not only uses algorithms to adjust prices and offer vacation packages but also now allows search engines to glean more information about your online behavior than ever before so it can build a profile of the user.
Concerns About AI and Travel
Although the use of smart technology has continued to grow over the past several years, Americans are not 100% convinced they want to deal with computers when traveling. In a recent survey, 61% preferred humans to automation or robots at the check-in desks at airports. Additionally, 66% were scared at the thought that humans would be replaced by robots or automation in the security area of airports. Just like the frustration many people experience when dealing with a robot when calling a company, to face robots or technology when traveling could quickly ruin a vacation or business trip.
AI is here to stay. What’s important is understanding how it works, accepting that it’s already in our lives in a big way and learning to use it to your advantage when you travel. AI is creating a profile on every user, but it’s not doing so to intrude. Rather, it’s there to help make your life easier and to make sure your next trip goes as smoothly as possible.