We have been hearing for months that AI will kill millions of jobs — that technology will take over all aspects of the travel industry and so on.
Let’s take this onslaught of information and clinically dissect it to get a clearer view of how the travel industry will be affected. We can broadly define the core aspects of the travel industry in three main categories: preparation, buying and the actual experience itself.
Assume you want to go from New York to London on vacation. If you are bringing your family of four or five people, you will likely end up searching for hours on various search engines like Kayak or Expedia to get the right itinerary and number of stops, book the nearest airport, etc. This is a time-consuming and frustrating part of the vacation planning process.
Finding the right prices, times and quality is the primary challenge every vacation traveler faces online. This applies to everything, from flights to booking hotels.
This might come as a shock to people, as technology has proliferated across all aspects of the travel industry. But companies have put too much focus on technology and have forgotten that customer service is very important. Try to speak to a customer service representative at one of the many online travel agencies (OTAs). Wait times for these agencies can be brutally long, especially during emergencies.
AI will hopefully solve some of these issues. Specialized algorithms can seamlessly transition between humans and systems when an OTA is handling an irate customer. Google’s data shows that 36% of consumers are willing to pay more for these personalized experiences. However, a poor customer experience will not be fully saved by new technology — at least not immediately.
There are so many prices and restrictions when making a travel purchase, and customers feel helpless in most cases. We are seeing that because of these reasons, many customers are switching back to travel agents.