The travel sector caters for two very different audiences, The Leisure Traveller and The Business Traveller. We'll explore how artificial intelligence and big data will begin to have a fundamental impact on their travel booking experiences.
The typical leisure traveller will perhaps take 1-2 trips per year. They'll generate masses of research in the form of Pinterest pins, liking brands, photos and videos generated on Facebook and Instagram. They will search endlessly on booking sites for the cheapest deals and read in-depth reviews on TripAdvisor. Have you connected your Facebook, Twitter or Google account to those mentioned? If you have, this opens the door for slow data gathering of your likes, dislikes and desires for future travel booking experiences.
The typical business traveller will travel frequently. There are much narrower use cases at play for this traveller. Their need of travelling is very commercially driven as time is money. Business travellers usually need the quickest route and they are less focused on price. Business travel is more repetitive and predictive in nature.
Collecting data that is relevant to their travel criteria will allow for more personalised experiences. That is the trade off when they give away their personal data.
"The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself."
If there is one thing that AI can bring to the travel industry and customer experiences it is the ability to create bookings that are truly relevant and tailored. Offering a 'Personalised experience', somewhat of a buzzword over the past decade. However, it's starting to become ever more real and prominent in the lives of leisure and business travellers.
AI and big data will be shaping the future travel agent, most likely a conversational interface that recalls your past experiences, needs and wants to build your travel itinerary.
This is actually happening right now with Lola, a travel company that provides on-demand, personal travel service through a smartphone app. Founded by Paul English, the co-founder of metasearch company Kayak and Lola's co-founder and CEO.
Lola is a conversational interface. Flight, hotels and car booking results are driven by computer learning and a team of travel experts in order to fast-track personalised bookings. Lola's next step will be implementing the purchase of data from players such as Expedia, offering their travellers the histories and preferences from Expedia datasets.
Whether you're a leisure or business traveller, these personalised experiences do come at a cost, a cost to surrounding your personal data. Whether you're willing to give that up in the future may well be the difference between the cost and convenience of your booking.