Artificial Intelligence: Bigger Than the Internet?

Published September 2017 Analyst: Bob Offutt


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to significantly impact (in a good way) the traveler's journey, for everything from travel planning to experiencing the near-perfect trip.

New microchip technology, the exploding quantity of digital data, and deeper insight into human thought processes are enabling scientists and engineers to move from a rule-based world to a world where the response is based on a multitude of factors, each weighted differently. For instance, if the Smiths are traveling with two kids, a rule-based scenario might result in them being emailed a coupon for fast food. On the other hand, a more nuanced response would offer something to each of the Smiths in real time, based on their interests (e.g., offer Mrs. Smith a spa treatment, Mr. Smith a golf round, and the whole family a water park pass sent via mobile notifications during the family's downtime).

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond trip planning and recommendations, AI can support many common travel use cases, including:

  • Voice-enabled dialog interactions
  • Chatbots
  • Automated or semi-automated customer support
  • Shopping (e.g., using interests and other profile data to recommend vacation choices)
  • Day of travel re-accommodation
  • Destination activity planning
  • Ground transportation planning including ride sharing, Uber/Lyft and use of autonomous vehicles
  • Scheduling of support resources (e.g., hotel vehicles, front desk staffing, etc.)
  • Pricing and demand forecasting
  • Delay forecasting
  • Translation
  • Fraud management

AI is not easy and requires substantial understanding of the data that needs to be collected, and the processes and logic that will be part of the AI system. AI is also a very broad term, encompassing many related fields including machine learning, deep learning and cognitive computing.

(Click image to view a larger version.)

A special four-part series from Phocuswright explores the intersection of AI and travel – available exclusively to Innovation Edition research subscribers. ( Learn more about subscribing.) The series includes:

Spotlights: The New UX

The Phocuswright Conference – the largest event at the intersection of digital, travel and innovation – will feature in-depth discussions with digital travel's leading minds on AI and how it will transform our industry. Register today!