ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS TRANSFORMING
Travel and hotel industries will be completely transformed by artificial intelligence (AI) and this article presents 7 ways on how this will happen.
Can you imagine being able to open the door to your hotel room without a key, but rather through facial recognition tools?
These are examples of the ways that artificial intelligence is beginning to change the ways we travel and stay in hotel.
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence are growing rapidly, and it is important for travel companies and hotels to stay up-to-date on the latest trends so that they can take advantage of the many benefits afforded by these tools.
Few months ago I participated in a seminar in Seville Spain entitled “Hotel Innovation” (Hotel Innovación in Spanish).
It was great to spend time among so many experts in the hotel industry and to learn from them, as well. I found it interesting that the hotel and travel industries have often been one of the first industries to introduce new technologies.
AI has the ability to change the hospitality industry drastically and the first companies to invest in AI solutions will likely receive the most benefits.
Here are a few of the ways that I foresee AI changing the way that hotels operate, as I shared in my presentation:
1. Hotel Bookings by Voice Command
The ability to search by voice command is becoming more powerful and effective every day. Soon, we’ll find voice-powered reservation systems in place at many hotels. For those who own hotels and similar businesses, it is a good idea to learn what kinds of results come up when you search for your hotel or tourist attraction by voice on Google. Voice search will be one of the most important artificial intelligence applications in the travel and hotel industries.
2. AI Concierge Services
Both Amazon (Alexa) and Apple (Siri) want to be able to operate in hotel rooms around the world, serving as virtual assistants to guests by activating appliances and answering basic questions. Already, the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas has equipped each of its 4,700 rooms with Amazon’s Alexa to provide its patrons with a more modern and efficient experience.
3. Travel Service Chatbots
AI-powered chatbots will soon serve as the primary method of customer interaction for many businesses, including those in the travel industry. There are already several chatbots available through the Facebook Messenger platform. And many of these will also soon be available for use on websites for travel companies, helping clients to make reservations and answering their questions along the way.
4. Check-in Through Facial Recognition
Because of the many advancements in biometric technologies, facial recognition tools are being used more often in various businesses, helping people to save time at airports, in hotels, and even at large conferences and events. Facial recognition technologies also make it easier to identify and catch criminals, which in turn leads to better safety for those who are traveling or attending events at tourist attractions.
Already, Finnair, an airline company based in Finland, has started to test the use of facial recognition tools at its Helsinki airport, with the eventual goal of having customers check in without having a physical boarding pass, which will make their wait times much shorter. Hotels may also use tools like this to replace room keys in the future. On YouTube there are several videos showing how the facial recognition works in different airports.
5. Smart Travel in Smart Cities
Currently most cities worldwide are still operating using “second industrial revolution” infrastructure, namely roads, transportation and buildings that are becoming obsolete due to various factors such as energy inefficiency and outdated technology. Soon many of them will be converted to so-called “smart cities,” where sensors will be used to collect and manage data related to information such as traffic and tourist flows, air pollution and communication within the city. These sensors will then, in turn, provide input into how all of these components can better work together, helping the whole city to run more efficiently. This will be mainly powered by the Internet of Things technology, but artificial intelligence will also play a key role in the future of smart cities, as it will be needed to analyze huge amounts of data. The Internet of Things will work together with AI to create harmony within these smart cities.
6. Self-Driving Cars and Mobility as a Service
Over the next few years, we’ll likely see many cities adapting to the use of more self-driving cars, buses and taxis. Since self-driving vehicles virtually eliminate the factor of human error, their use will greatly reduce the number of traffic accidents. Also, because many traffic jams are caused by the improper driving habits of humans, an increase in the number of self-driving cars will lead to a decrease in heavy traffic congestion.
Mobility as a service (MaaS) is a movement that aims to reduce car traffic by making it easier for travelers to get around using other modes of transportation (https://whimapp.com/). This concept, which is growing in popularity and has been nicknamed the Netflix of transportation, is already being implemented by a Finnish company with its app called Whim. This app offers travelers the best options, as alternatives to driving a car, for getting to their destinations door-to-door as quickly and inexpensively as possible. These options could be in any number or combination of modes of transportation, including public, private, and even cycling. It will even handle booking and payment for you, making it as convenient as possible to leave your car at home, or even give up owning a car completely. In addition to Helsinki, Finland, Whim has also started testing in West Midlands in the UK, with plans to expand to other regions soon. 10
7. Other Robotic Tools
Hotels, tourism offices, and other travel-based businesses will soon be able to employ robots in place of traditional human workers. We’ll take a deeper look at this concept in the chapter devoted to robots in this book, where you can read about the Henn na Hotel in Japan, which is operated almost entirely by robots. Interestingly Hen na hotel has fired most of its robot workers.
As I spoke with participants after my presentation at the seminar, it became obvious that many of them were aware of the growth of artificial intelligence, but were surprised by the applications available for these technologies.
Other speakers during this conference included by good friend and colleague, Jimmy Pons, who shared about some of the innovations hotel industry, as well as these leaders in the industry:
– Pablo Gago, director of Commercials & Marketing in Room Mate Hotels
– Fabian González, director of The Digital Band
– Charo García, director of the hotel Jardines de Sabatini
– Sofia Barroso, International Receptionist of the Year AICR, 2016
As you consider the many applications of AI to the travel and hospitality industry?
What are some of ways you think artificial intelligence is transforming travel and hotel industry?