Travel and Tourism

How is AI reshaping the travel experience?

Is AI taking global travel in a new direction?

Is AI taking global travel in a new direction? Image: Photo by Mantas Hesthaven on Unsplash

Jane Sun
Chief Executive Officer, Trip.com Group
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  • AI innovation is redefining the essence of travel.
  • This AI push aligns with a thriving travel market with domestic and regional tourism experiencing substantial growth.
  • The future of AI in travel is poised to focus on efficient and highly personalized solutions tailored to the individual's needs.

In the dynamic landscape of travel, artificial intelligence (AI) stands as a beacon of transformation, reshaping our journey from the moment we decide to explore the world. In building an AI ecosystem for travellers, we have doubled conversion rates, shaped user loyalty and fostered global communities. Beyond streamlined planning, AI innovation redefines the very essence of travel, promising a future marked by efficiency, personalization and global enrichment.

Unlocking value with AI innovation

McKinsey's research underscores the immense potential of generative AI, suggesting it could unlock between $2 trillion and $4 trillion in annual value across industries.

Already, we see AI technologies, such as facial recognition, employed for check-ins at airports and hotels, enhancing security and streamlining the boarding process. Biometric systems contribute to a more seamless and secure travel experience. Robots equipped with AI capabilities are used in hospitality for tasks such as room service, concierge services and cleaning. Some airports also deploy robots for baggage handling and customer assistance.

Furthermore, AI algorithms are widely used to analyse user behaviour, preferences and past travel history to offer personalized recommendations for destinations, accommodations and activities.

In July 2023, we launched an enhanced version of our AI travel assistant, TripGenie. This tool provides more convenient, personalized and intuitive travel planning. It harnesses the concept of the language user interface, providing users with real-time assistance that significantly enhances convenience and intuitiveness in the planning process.

If you inquire, "How do I plan a three-day trip to Switzerland?" the travel assistant swiftly creates a personalized, editable itinerary in under a minute. It recommends tourist spots and shopping destinations and even provides booking links, images and city maps within the conversational interface.

The results are not just promising, they are transformative. TripGenie has increased order conversion rates and user retention rates, leading to heightened loyalty and satisfaction among users.

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Smart travel planning and assistance

For businesses, AI is used to analyse historical booking patterns, market demand and external factors (e.g. weather and events) to optimize pricing in real time. Dynamic pricing strategies help companies adjust prices to maximize revenue and occupancy rates in hotels. AI is also employed for predictive maintenance in the transportation sector, helping to anticipate and address potential issues with vehicles and aircraft before they cause disruptions.

For consumers, the future of smart travel planning is exemplified by efficiently deciphering complex requests and swiftly directing users to detailed itinerary planning, personalized recommendations and bookings. This is a process we’re continually improving with our travel assistant, eliminating the manual effort of input and filtering searches and making travel planning as effortless as chatting with a friend. TripGenie provides personalized, editable itineraries in less than a minute that would take hours or days to plan manually. It can also handle complex requests, such as multi-destination planning.

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An integrated AI-powered ecosystem

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies enhance the travel experience by providing virtual tours, interactive maps and immersive experiences to help travellers explore destinations without actually visiting. A common use of AR is also in translation apps, allowing users to point their smartphones at foreign signs or text. The app then overlays translations onto real-world images, breaking down language barriers for travellers and allowing them to better experience their new environment.

These shared experiences have the potential to deepen the relationship between travellers and travel partners. In our platforms, we have been experimenting with using AI to tap into the stories of travellers, forming algorithmic, AI-powered lists. These lists offer curated information based on user preferences and real-time data, encouraging a vibrant travel ecosystem and strong traveller communities.

travel artificial intelligence ai
Image: Trip.com

Enhancing customer experience with AI precision

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are used for customer service, providing instant responses to queries and assisting with booking processes. These systems can handle routine tasks, such as reservation changes and FAQs, and provide travel recommendations based on user preferences.

Our AI chatbots handle numerous enquiries via text and voice, achieving impressive self-service resolution rates for airline tickets and hotels. This streamlined approach not only saves time and energy for customers, it also accelerates case-solving efficiency, allowing customer service teams to focus on more complex cases.

Future trends: AI and the evolution of travel

As we look ahead, the future of AI in travel is poised to focus on efficient and highly personalized solutions tailored to individual traveller's needs. This vision signifies the next phase of the travel industry and underscores the profound impact of AI in making travel more convenient, personalized and memorable for everyone.

This AI push aligns with a thriving travel market with domestic and regional tourism experiencing substantial growth. During China's 'Golden Week', the first long holiday since the reopening of borders in 2023, outbound travel volume surged by over 800% compared to the previous year, while domestic tourism grew by nearly 200% this year. China's inbound tourism harbours immense potential and if elevated to 1.5% of GDP, it could yield a growth of over RMB 1.3 trillion.

In this new era of travel, we are optimistic. As we continue to evolve in the realm of AI, the possibilities are not just exciting; they are limitless. AI is not merely changing the way we travel; it's revolutionising the very essence of our travel experiences, making them efficient, intuitive and deeply enriching.

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Related topics:
Travel and TourismArtificial IntelligenceChina
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