Travel Tech Trends: Automation, Adaptation, and Digitization


The travel industry is undergoing a technological transformation with the rise of automation, adaptation, and digitization. Noam Toister, co-founder and CEO at Travelier, says from Natural Language Processing to chatbot-powered services and AI-powered hotel rooms, technology is increasingly being integrated into travel services to provide personalized customer engagement and enhance connectivity between all travel sectors.

However, challenges still need to be addressed, particularly in the ground transportation sector, which is the least digitized sector of the industry. The future of travel technology will rely on holistic systems that allow users to plan all aspects of their trips virtually, from start to finish, for a seamless and super-convenient experience.

Considering that some travelers are already letting ChatGPTOpens a new window help them brainstorm trip ideas and even plan their whole itineraries, it is increasingly clear that the generative AI revolution won’t pass over the travel industry. 

Although these automated tools still need the unique real-life experience and nuanced knowledge of travel professionals, there are many ways that this technology can be incorporated into existing travel services. With savvy implementation, generative AI can help the industry provide personalized customer engagement, build exciting digital offerings, tailor travel experiences to various preferences and needs, and bolster connectivity between all travel sectors.

Industry players who hope to stay competitive must embrace this opportunity to digitize even further – particularly those in the ground transportation sector, perhaps the least digitized sector of the travel industry and the one most ripe for technological transfusion.

Natural Language Processing and Generative AI

For several years before generative AI reached the public, tech tools and automation had already played a vital role in the growth of the travel sector. Take natural language processing (NLP), the technology used to power chatbots; it is widely used across the industry, helping to relieve overburdened customer service workers and provide faster response times. 

NLP’s translation and automation capabilities can be used in other travel and tourism services – chatbot-powered visa applications, other documentation services, and AI-powered translation allowing tourists to communicate with locals. These AI-powered hotel rooms understand voice commands or multilingual chatbots for frictionless communication and support services.

Complex AI like ChatGPT now stands to ease further and personalize the travel experience. In the future, generative AI can be trained to deliver individually tailored content, respond to and learn from customer inquiries, and create personalized marketing messages.

Despite this technology’s promise, limitations remain, namely, the lack of up-to-date data. Opening hours, availability, crowdedness, weather, safety considerations, and countless other factors always change in any location, so it is hard to plan a trip without accounting for real-time travel data. Such data must be compiled externally and regularly updated to ensure reliable answers to users’ queries. Another downside is that, in its current state, ChatGPT’s capabilities lack accuracy and efficiency in every language other than English, yielding an incalculable number of missed opportunities for globally-minded businesses and international travelers. 

One solution to these challenges is the upcoming rollout of varied ChatGPT plug-ins to popular platforms, such as Expedia and Kayak. Through these plug-ins, OpenAI will not only learn from a user’s activity on a given travel site or provider platform, but it will also seamlessly empower travelers to use ChatGPT for organizing flights, hotels, activities, and car rentals, while still allowing them to reap the benefits of a specific travel provider’s digital infrastructure.

See More: Exploring Generative AI’s Rise Across the Enterprise

Destination: Digitization 

Traveling has never been more accessible and convenient than it is today. With just a click of a button, travelers can reserve flights, hotels, tours, restaurant seating, and theater tickets. 

Unfortunately, this is not the case for localized sea and ground travel, i.e., buses, ferries, and trains representing the last undigitized sector in the travel value chain. While 50%Opens a new window of flight and hotel tickets are bought online, the market share for ground and sea transportation remains under 15%. 

A myriad of challenges has kept this sub-sector extremely fragmented. Consider that many local ground transportation providers still use pen and paper or outdated legacy systems complicating travelers’ ability to book tickets conveniently. And because these providers are much more localized – operating more like small businesses than large institutions like airlines or hotels – there is rarely an intuitive way for travelers to centralize their ticket purchasing and holdings from train to bus to ferry.

See More: Digitize, Survive, Revive, and Thrive: Making It Through  COVID-19 and After

Thus, the future of travel technology will need to be built on digital interconnectivity – specifically, the adoption and integration of holistic systems that allow users to plan all aspects of their trips virtually, from start to finish. By eliminating the gaps that exist across the separate platforms needed for booking, itinerary planning, and ticket sales for ground and sea transportation, travelers will find it seamless and super-convenient to plan their trips, while online travel agencies (OTAs) and the suppliers they rely on will see increased revenue from heightened customer engagement and retention.

Fortunately, as we’ve seen with the proliferation of NLP chatbots and the growing role of generative AI in various fields, digitization is also on the rise in the travel sector – but there’s still a long road before we reach the final destination. It is not enough for OTAs and other travel providers to turn to automation and AI technology just to hop on the bandwagon. Rather, they must do so with a strategic eye for interconnectivity so that future travelers can do less website hopping and more globetrotting.

Can leveraging automation, adaptation, and digitization enhance your travel experiences? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window . We’d love to hear from you!

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