Where are we at?

Has the travel market revolutionized how the average customer experience? Not yet, we’re still waiting. 75% of all americans feel repelled to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) software tools. Not surprisingly, many people still need human contact. But in my eyes the reason not to use Artificial Intelligence technology is different.

While using a chatbot (i.e. Icelandair) or the Hipmunk app it still feels that there is no real added value. The chatbot gets stuck very fast and then refers you to a real person. The Hipmunk app (Travel Agent app with AI algorithms) does not provide more than general recommendations, far from custom made offers to your specific needs. Google Now is more advanced but offers only general content and attractions recommendations. Its best feature is to remind you when to leave in time for the airport.

On the other hand we see growing mobile device usage of the current technology of apps/websites. For example 40% of all travel bookings in Sweden are made on mobile devices. Users are using more and more the current familiar UX interface that was developed by the big players in the last few years (Priceline and Expedia).

Caveman or the savvy Digital-Sapiens?

The next AI technological development is going to save a lot of money to the big players. Instead of paying humans to give service to clients, they will develop one smart software for millions of people. There is a lot at stake – around $2.3 trillion a year. The players who are going to gamble on the right technology are going to make a fortune. So, who is it going to be, the Caveman who needs personal contact and reaffirmation when planning, buying and executing travel plans or the savvy Digital-Sapiens who has enough mileage on-line to check, book and execute through the guidance of smart algorithms and future AI technology?

The big winners…

Travel companies that are developing advanced technology are lagging behind Amazon, FB, Starbucks and others. For example, Amazon recommends costume tailored products, sales and sends you the product within 24 hours. The travel industry has much to do in order to close the gap in comparison with these data and service oriented companies. On-top taking in consideration that the Caveman mentality is here to stay (mainly with the babyboomers and x/y generations). We, at Tourism in the Future, believe that the existing online platforms like FB, Snapchat and Instagram are going to stay relevant much longer for the travel industry. Not only that, their usage as online sales channels are going to extend in the future. These channels have a huge advantage presenting content natively and a very authentic way. The ability to figure out if the content is user generated or advertisement-generated is much harder if we compare them to other advertisements online channels. This is the main reason that in the near future will see many users shifting from the big OTA’s and direct booking to these channels also for booking.

Only when the AI, IoT(Internet of Things) and big-data technologies will be advanced enough and the Digital-Sapiens will have enough confidence in these technologies they will be put to use by the big players or will see new surprising players emerging.


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