AI helps travel take the next big step

ARTIFICIAL intelligence (AI) is already nudging the travel industry toward the next phase of its evolution.

Marco Ciocchetti, ceo of XL Travel, believes the industry will soon see “huge progression” in AI as well as Augmented Reality (AR) for improved customer service.

Travel Counsellors ceo, Steve Byrne, says the personal relationship-based approach to selling travel will, however, remain critical.

“If invested in effectively, AI can be used to augment, simplify and accelerate human activities, enabling expert travel advisers to have more knowledge and time to enhance the customer experience.”

Byrne says for the travel industry, AI is likely to have the largest impact on trip research and planning by simplifying the administrative process so data is more easily and readily accessible.

Travel Counsellors gm in SA, Mladen Lukic, says a lot of the tech by competitors that he sees is to replace the client interaction with human representatives. “Our tech is aimed at enhancing those conversations between business owners and clients.”

FCM Travel Solutions has already introduced AI into processes to simplify the travel experience for clients, says Nicole Adonis, FCM Travel Solutions gm.

The Smart Assist Mobile (SAM) application is the chatbot making travelling easier for corporate clients.

“When clients land at an airport, SAM directs them to the correct carousel and updates them on transfer options.”

The next wave of AI will open up other opportunities to improve the customer experience, she believes.

“We think it will simplify travel decision-making and planning, shorten the buying process, help travellers avoid travel disruptions and increase the uptake of loyalty programmes.”