ai in travel

Imagine a future where planning your dream vacation is as simple as a conversation with a friend, where the hassles of booking, navigating new cities, and even communicating in foreign languages are handled by a digital companion.

This is not the opening scene of a sci-fi novel, but the reality of travel today thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

It’s making the world more accessible than ever, improving customer service, and streamlining trip planning.

…And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

How AI is Influencing The Travel Industry

Here’s how AI is impacting the travel industry with real-world examples from some of the top hospitality brands.

It Saves You Time Planning Trips

How much do you spend on planning a trip from start to finish on average?

If you’re like me, it’s easily 5 to 10 hours (sometimes more), depending on how well I know the destination, who I’m traveling with, and what I want to do.

There’s the massive pre-trip research on Google, the trawling through dozens of Airbnb listings, and reading blog posts from other travelers to put together a detailed itinerary.

What if you could cut that research time by 90% and get a list of personalized recommendations in minutes?

That’s the power of GenAI for travel.

Case in point: Matador Network’s GuideGeek.

The free, AI-powered travel assistant is a chatbot that works on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and is fluent in 45 languages. It asks a series of questions to learn your likes, dislikes, and motivations before curating a list of personalized recommendations.

For example, you can ask the chatbot: 

“I’m traveling to New York with my best friend for seven days. Our budget is $1,000, and we want an itinerary with budget-friendly things to do and to spoil ourselves at a rooftop bar with a spectacular view of the NYC skyline.”

Here’s GuideGeek’s answer:

Incredible right?

Read More: 2024 Travel Trends: Travel’s Biggest Year Yet

It Makes Booking Hotels and Flights Simple

Smart booking assistants are changing how travelers book their trips.

Instead of going to a travel agency, you can ask the bot to find flights, book a hotel room, or give you rental car options at your destination.

The result?

Your business can have 24/7 availability and customer service.

An example is Expedia’s chatbot.

It uses a series of questions to help you find hotel deals, book flights, and handle unexpected trip changes.

You can refine your results inside the chat by setting personalized variables such as hotel location, room type, date ranges, price points, and more.

For flights, Expedia’s bot uses flight data to compare prices with historical trends and track fluctuations to help helpers decide when to book and earn rewards.

And if something goes wrong?

The AI-powered virtual agent is available 24/7 to resolve issues.

It Improves Customer Service for Travelers 

Travel is unpredictable.

You can plan your trip in minute detail, and something can and will happen that will turn your itinerary upside down.

That’s why travelers require a different level of support.

When your flight is canceled or you need to make a last-minute change to a booking, you don’t always have the luxury of time to wait for a human customer service agent to get back to you.

That’s where AI-powered customer service tools are making all the difference.

These chatbots can handle a wide range of tasks, from answering frequently asked questions to assisting with bookings and providing real-time travel updates. 

Unlike traditional customer service channels, AI assistants are available 24/7, ensuring travelers always have access to immediate assistance whenever they need it. 

AI assistants continually learn from interactions, improving their accuracy and personalization of support over time. This allows travel companies to reap benefits like saving time on support requests, reducing costs, and providing multilingual support.

And it works!

Accor Plus, one of the largest hospitality networks, implemented a chatbot to offer 24/7 support, improving its resolution time by 220%.

It’s Minimizing Lost Baggage at Airports

Lost luggage is a major problem for airlines and airports.

According to the Department of Transportation’s Air Travel Consumer Reports, 7 out of every 1,000 bags become lost.

Then, there are malfunctions that can throw the entire process off.

For example, Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport experienced a technical disruption that left thousands of bags stranded.

With AI-powered systems to track luggage, airports, and airlines can minimize losses and reduce mishandled baggage incidents.

One airline that is already implementing AI in its luggage process is Delta Airlines. Using RFID tags and AI, the airline offers real-time bag tracking, and the results speak for themselves.

It’s Breaking Down Language Barriers

Say goodbye to accidentally asking a local if you can “eat their dog” in French or misunderstanding their directions to the Eiffel Tower.

Language barriers are tumbling down thanks to AI tools, making it more accessible and less intimidating for people around the world. 

According to a survey from Hostelword.com, 10% of UK adults say that not being able to communicate prevents them from traveling abroad.

With real-time voice and text translations, travelers can have seamless communication with locals without needing a human interpreter. The technology is also better at understanding cultural nuances and expressions, reducing the chances of anything getting lost in translation.

Think of it like the Babel fish from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Place it in your ear, and you’ll hear any language translated into your native tongue.

The Future of AI in the Travel Industry

While AI can feel intimidating (as all new things do), it’s good to remember it’s only a tool. AI isn’t a replacement for human thought or opinion. It’s another way to augment your knowledge to create a better experience for yourself or your guests.

How do you see AI changing the travel industry? Is it something that excites you or are you nervous about the advancement of this new technology?

Let me know in the comments below!