What is artificial intelligence? Most people know about artificial intelligence (AI) from movies. Avengers, AI, Ex Machina, Matrix, Robocop, and even the movie Wall-e, to name a few. According to Merriam Webster dictionary, artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers; the ability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. So, what does that really mean day-to-day in the travel industry?
For one, online communication has risen exponentially. From ground transportation to hotels and resorts, consumers have questions and AI helps to provide answers. Especially when access to humans is limited or unaffordable. Ever use a chatbot or online customer service? Chances are that at least half of the time (if not more) you aren’t communicating with another person. Rather, an AI feature that can answer hundreds of the most common questions such as hours of operation, billing inquiries, reservations process, location, services, and more. AI also provides the support to consumers 24/7, making it much more affordable than employing customer service representatives around the clock – and worldwide. A fun example is Sam, intelligent travel bot.
Another example of a chatbot is Rose at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. A sassy, digital concierge described as the “resident mischief-maker,” Rose can practically answer any question you have. From local establishments to visit, to booking entertainment tickets, to ordering room service all hours of the day, Rose is there to serve you – and with a sense of humor too! Plus, with each question answered, Rose gathers more data about guests in general, only making her more educated and valuable as time goes on.
Humanoid Robotic Assistants
Taking AI to the next level is the use of humanoid robotic assistants for face-to-face interaction. That’s right – a robot who will answer your questions and provide assistance like a human might do for you.
Developed by SoftBank Robotics – meet Pepper! Open to “infinite interaction and possibilities,” Pepper can do an assortment of things for the travel and hospitality industry. Greeter, service provider, loyalty manager, sales associate, brand ambassador, survey conductor, and even entertainer is a list of the many things Pepper can offer. From check-ins, to locating restaurants, bars, and shopping, as well as putting passengers at ease, Pepper was installed in Italy’s Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport after its major expansion, to enhance the travel experience. The result?
- 200% increase in customer satisfaction
- 100% increase in brand awareness
- 200+ interactions a day (in both English and Italian)
Data Processing & Analysis
Besides front-of-the-house service, behind-the-scenes is where AI really stands out! Gathering and interpreting data is one of the most popular ways to better understand customers. AI can
leverage data from different sources in more ways than one (such as customer surveys and reviews). This in turn can be used to fine-tune pricing plans, develop focused strategic objectives, and bring to the forefront customer desires and needs. Skies the limit!
For more information on how AI can affect the travel and hospitality industry, check out this article: Reimagining the Future of Travel and Hospitality with Artificial Intelligence.