Nearly 60% of consumers believe that their travel experience should deploy the use of AI and base their search results on past behaviour and/or personal preference.
VP, Engineering for Travel and Shopping, Google
In the same breath, Expedia, Hotels.com, Agoda, AirBnb and others with big enough pockets and expertise in tech have been implementing AI/ML, albeit slowly but steadily!
Where does that leave the traditional travel agencies? who have either just recently managed to or are still in the journey to setup a decent enough online presence. A presence, good enough to attract traffic and fingers crossed! convert that traffic. Forget about capturing enough data on the web traffic, sales and bookings made, to crunching numbers and applying intelligence on that data, EVENTUALLY reaching the “holy grail” of PERSONALISATION, RECOMMENDATION AND PREDICTION!
It is a dangerous situation, in a fiercely competitive market, with downward spiralling margins, lower barriers to entry but higher costs of acquiring customers, spoilt by more choices than they will ever make in a lifetime!
Having spoken to multiple medium sized online travel agents, this is what a simplified roadmap looks like :
Here is what your customers should eventually see on your website:
Example of a hotel in Dubai.
Stop sweating over personalisation, recommendation and forecasting just as yet!… focus on getting started with a good digital presence (UI and UX are paramount) follow it with data capturing and data utilisation, then apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to STEP UP and STAY AHEAD.