How Machine Learning Is Transforming The Travel Industry?

The growing popularity of new IT trends is leading to major changes in travel & hospitality. Its potential for innovation is limitless, with new ideas testing every day. Business processes & services evolve due to the increasing amount of data that needs processing daily. Digital has become a powerful channel to reach customers, engage them and answer their queries. With the mobile-first revolution, travel companies & agents strive to be present everywhere, 24/7. Following latest tech tendencies allows them to improve the working efficiency and increase the level of clients satisfaction.

AI and machine learning are two modern trends that big & small companies should embrace today. We already witness the great transformation of tourism management & delivery mechanisms. To use the technologies power, we should be aware of modern tendencies & tools. Let’s explore how machine learning is applied in travel niche, and find out what are major changes & improvements in it.

Conversational chatbots offer better assistance

Chatbots are messenger apps which serve as virtual assistants to users. In fact, they replace human interactions offering faster & more effective solutions.

Modern day travelers don’t need to scroll through the dozens of website pages to find  necessary kind of information anymore. Instead, they can use conversational applications. These chatbots deliver the required information in a matter of seconds. Users enter their specific query, and receive a detailed & precise information about a certain type of service or flights. In such way, they can compare prices, find out about new flight options or even make a reservation. Learning from every new reservation or request, ai chatbots provide results & solutions related to clients reservations history.

Who knows, maybe these machines will replace human interactions completely one fine day? For now, they are much more powerful & flexible than traditional call centres: these apps are available in different languages, being ready to answer clients questions 24/7. Such industry giants as Booking.com, SkyScanner are using this technology to help their customers. And with every year these applications are becoming more sophisticated.

Flights pricing & trips planning

Machine learning turns out a very helpful tool in trips planning and flights booking. Since flight prices vary a lot, customers need to constantly keep an eye on them to find the best offers. Thankfully, intelligent tools allow to track the cost reduction and send the best deals to customers. Another powerful tool can inform the Internet users about the best hotel prices & predict future rates. Predictive analytics takes into account many factors like daily rates, client’s booking preferences, weather and more.

Imagine you have a realistic forecast of flight price changings? Thanks to machine learning, now you can know the best time & rates for travel.

Machine learning can also provide a simple & fast trip planning. Now customers can book a hotel room using just their voice. Natural language processing combined with machine learning techniques enable seamless & fast reservation process.

Recently, Kayak has developed a brand new solution called Kayak Travel Planner. It allows creating the entire travel plan from start to finish in just a few clicks.

Recommendation engine

Recommendation engine is a powerful tool that simplifies greatly the navigation process. Based on user’s preferences & trending search results, it generates a list of recommended hotels or flights. Screening thousands of options, it chooses the most optimal ones and provides users with them. This engine relies on customer’s past bookings, budget & preferences. Collecting important data, it recommends restaurants, trips, flights or even event tickets to customers. From culture to nightlife, the engine covers any aspects which you are interested in. Looking through many authority sites, such as Foursquare, Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor, it creates a complete user-centered solution.

Personalization

AI & machine learning will improve traveler’s experience greatly soon. Think of personalized itineraries & services at the first place. Based on your browsing history, interests & previous bookings, agencies will offer more personalized travel options to you.

In the future, airlines and hotels might even offer bundles, fitting perfectly each specific client. For example, a hotel room paired with custom hotel amenities. Thanks to ML, agencies will be able to analyze the purchase data & clients profiles. Then, they will offer trip routes created exclusively for them. This, in turn, will lead to fewer waste related to unused amenities.

Automated customer service

Customer service plays a crucial role in building a brand reputation. In fact, it is even more important than price & quality of service. According to IBM, clients will manage 85% of their interactions with an agency with no human communication soon. This might seem risky at first sight. However, it allows actually to solve common issues & prevent problems. According to Airlines for America, travel delays & mixed flights are the reason why clients lose significant sums of money. This is associated with long & complicated reassigning processes. Travelers need to talk to customer agents and wait for hours to receive deserved compensation.

In fact, a 20-minute procedure can  only take few minutes with help of intelligent algorithm. ML allows to solve easily common problems such as losing luggage or delayed flight. Rescheduling flights becomes easier & much faster. Moreover, collecting real-time & archived data allows to predict bad weather on the routes to make the right decisions about flight delays. Airlines achieve more efficient disruption management in such way. Making forecasts based on the history and current processes allows to deal with possible problems. Why exhaust travel agents & data analysts if you can achieve better & faster results with the help of smart machines?

Machine learning increases conversion rates & customer loyalty

Commercial airlines & travel agencies сan benefit greatly from machine learning. Adjusting to customers interests, they offer better user experience to clients. Even if the airline knows little about a new client, ML can collect the data about travelers having similar profiles to provide personalized trip advice for him. This helps to convert potential clients in real ones.
For example, the framework “Connected Traveler” can understand the traveler thanks to machine learning. Collecting data from multiple apps, it designs client’s behavior view. Offering a personalized approach & product offerings, ML is a powerful tool helps companies to boost sales.

Another way of increasing sales rates is by predicting who will be most interested in a certain type of services. Based on this data, airlines & travel agents can offer options to a clearly defined target audience.

Improved equipment maintenance

Machine learning transforms the way agencies maintain their modern equipment. Finding out about the performance declines, which may cause a breakdown, is essential for flying agencies. They need to take timely actions, preventing the downtime and unnecessary repairs. Meanwhile, too much maintenance may also be destructive to agencies. However, you can avoid this by creating a maintenance schedule; thus, part replacement will be properly planned and executed. The major advantages are better productivity, cost-efficiency and less to no breakdowns or flight cancellations.

Reviews analysis

Review portals & social media channels are powerful sources of travel info. Customers tend to better believe the reviews written by real-life people. Thus, the testimonials are very important for building the agency authority. Modern tools use machine learning to scroll through these reviews fast & efficiently. Then, they translate their meanings to companies. Positive or negative, each person’s opinion is taken into account. This allows to see the overall image of how users perceive a tour operator. So, agencies make adjustments when necessary.

How to benefit?

To take full advantage of machine learning, companies need to hire highly-skilled tech experts. Such specialists can help to create new solutions & adopt innovative approaches. However, at the moment we witness the shortage of machine learning specialists in different countries. To solve this issue, companies start searching overseas. Building a dedicated development team in another country may not be the most obvious solution, yet it’s among the most effective ones. If one decides to hire machine learning experts in-house, it might turn out more expensive & time-consuming process.

Conclusion

All in all, tourism industry is currently facing the need to manage large amounts of data, important for strategic decisions & operational processes. Travel companies adjust according to customers expectations that are constantly growing. Large or small, businesses strive to achieve higher performance. Striving to keep up with the latest tendencies, they are preparing for tomorrow’s challenges. Among the most important ones are price dependency, increased level of stress and the need to go digital. Technology advancement drives agencies to success, making them more innovative, while also bringing many new challenges.

These and many other factors result in a largely spread usage of machine learning in travel niche. This powerful technology helps to avoid potential issues & improve the overall process efficiency.

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Dana Kozubska
 

I'm a marketing content writer at CyberCraft - offshore software development company in Ukraine. I cover tech and business topics, offering useful info & advice to companies. Aimed at driving innovation in business.

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