The travel industry is one of the biggest proponents and early adopters of AI technology and applications. AI and machine learning are a natural fit for travel, a somewhat volatile industry that ebbs and flows based on a large number of wildcard variables. Customer service has been the primary way AI is being steadily integrated into the travel experience, although there are a host of other potential applications for the technology.
Hotels are a prime location for AI adoption and the Connie robot being deployed by Hilton Worldwide Hotels is one of the most well known examples. Connie is an AI-based concierge that uses AI and speech recognition to provide a variety of tourist-related information to guests who speak to it. The two-foot-high robot acts like a human concierge, assisting guests arriving at the front desk and fielding a host of questions at the Hilton locations where it is being used.
Connie also learns from each human interaction, building its knowledgebase to improve future communications. The robot uses IBM’s Watson AI technology as well as the travel database WayBlazer to fuel its knowledge and provide real-time recommendations and answers to common questions.
A number of other hotel chains have trialed or are actively using AI solutions, including Wynn Las Vegas, which integrated Amazon Echo in its rooms. The Echo enables guests to use their voices to control lighting, temperature and television settings and also offers personal assistant services. The Clarion Hotel in Stockholm was also an early adopter of Echo, using the technology to create a chatbot butler to help guests order room service, hail cabs and offer tourist information and tips.
The AI concierge being used at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is called Rose, and is unique in that it includes a calling card with phone numbers, enabling guests to text requests. Routine queries are handled by the bot, while more complex requests are escalated to human staff members. The Edwardian chain of hotels offers a similar service through their chatbot Edward, which directs guests to local restaurants and entertainment spots.
The airline industry is also a prevalent early adopter of AI in the travel sector, using the technology primarily for CRM. The Yana platform from Volantio, for instance, helps airlines rebook customers to maximize revenues by re-selling seats at better prices and offering incentives to customers to switch flights. It is already being used by Alaska Airlines and Qantas Airway.
Delta is taking advantage of Apple’s Business Chat-based support, using text and iOS messages in addition to human customer service agents. And the PredictHQ Aviation Rank solution was announced earlier this year, designed to alert airlines about important events and then correlate the relative importance of an event to actual demand. The offering uses demand intelligence technology and enables airlines to more accurately determine their fare prices in times of fluctuating demand.
CWT offers a hybrid messaging solution that features Reece, an AI-powered chatbot. Travelers may send text messages using a mobile app and receive immediate answers to common queries, while more complex questions are escalated to a human agent. The offering also uses machine learning to analyze travel patterns and other data to offer insights about traveler satisfaction.
More information about how AI and machine learning are being used in the travel industry and beyond will be available at TMC’s Future of Work Expo in Fort Lauderdale, FL. The event, which will take place from February 12-14, 2020, will explore how AI and machine learning technologies are being used for customer service, communications and beyond throughout a host of vertical markets.
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