How AI & Machine Learning are Enhancing Customer Experience in Travel
Artificial Intelligence is at the cutting edge of business. It is increasingly becoming a make-or-break criterion for big enterprises that operate online. But online travel is one industry where the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) has increased dramatically in recent times. Obviously, the competition is tight, but there is something else which makes the impact of AI on the travel industry powerful and massive.
Traveling is a very personal and important experience for everyone. Whether someone is a shoestring traveler, a backpacker, or luxury travel, they have a story with overwhelming desire behind it. Online travel agencies are perpetually on their toes to meet these desires and capture them in the form of data. They always buckle down to improve their customer experience and increase their lifetime value.
Travel giants usually have vast quantities of data, and they analyze that data to make sense out it through AI, ML, and Predictive Analysis. Before we dive deep into the whole subject, let’s understand what Predictive Analytics is. It’s sort of advanced analytics which helps make predictions about future using current data or existing data by applying Artificial Intelligence, data mining, and Machine Learning. Wait for it, we will take this up in detail later in the article.
Here’s how AI is improving travel by taking it from complicated drawn-out experience to making it simpler and customer-focused.
Personalisation is the Key
Make Tailored Recommendations
For example, if a customer is looking for holiday packages or flights for Hong Kong, you can make tailored recommendations such as Hong Kong flight prices, Hong Kong hotels, activities in Hong Kong and send price drop alerts for Hong Kong. You can also send newsletters and blogs on Hong Kong to further induce the interest.
With AI, you can learn your customer behavior and create segments to send relevant campaigns. For instance, if you have a set of customers who have not been too active, send them holiday deals similar to the deals they had been interested in the past or send them the most exclusive offers to their preferable travel destinations. This will help gain their loyalty.
Send Subject Lines your Users like to open
AI-powered tools can sort out the best and the worst performing campaign subject lines in the past. You can compare your campaign subject lines or titles to the previous subject lines, to know how likely your customers are to open or spam the email. If your users respond to negative sentiments, don’t shy away from using the strategy. It all boils down to what your customers resonate with.
Send Emails at your Customers’ Preferable Time
Nobody wants to ignore important mails but too many emails in the inbox at a time makes this happen. With Artificial Intelligence, travel agents can send emails to each user on their list at the time they prefer to open and read their emails. Just imagine, you have sent an email campaign to your audience, but each user will receive the email at the time he or she prefers to open.
Chatbots for Seamless Customer Service
You can either have a chatbot on your website or power chatbots on Instant Messaging Apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Your AI-powered chatbot can be integrated with WhatsApp business API, and you will become a business that engages or solves customers’ queries on the channel they prefer. You can respond to queries, even when your customer service representative isn’t available.
Hotel providers like The Marriot Hotels and The Holiday Inn are already using AI-powered chatbots to check-in guests, make restaurant reservations, and respond to their guest’s requests anytime during their stay. It’s an enhanced customer experience with improved operational efficiency, as chatbots don’t need lunch and coffee breaks.
Travel providers can send tickets, itinerary, flight updates, cancellation or delay alerts on WhatsApp or other instant messaging apps. You can customers can start a conversation with you whenever they need to, and you can resolve their issues in a jiffy. Less turnaround time will undoubtedly add to customer experience. If you send all the travel details and updates on WhatsApp, the information will be handy, and they won’t need to go through their emails.
Dynamic Pricing Tools, Big data and Predictive Analytics
Let’s us understand this with examples of brands who have been using their wealth of data combined with dynamic pricing tools, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to give a wonderful experience to their customers. So, how Airlines and OTAs are using Predictive Analysis and big data to provide seamless customer experience.
Hopper, a fare prediction app, uses APIs and powerful machine learning, to help travelers track deals, and sends offers and recommendations when the deal becomes available. It not only offers the best deals but also helps them know when to buy versus when to wait. The highly accurate price predictions save customers time, money, and hassle. Hopper is one of the biggest success stories in travel tech space. The app processes 300 billion flights every day and helps saving its customers an estimated $50 per flight. The company is soon going to be a part of Unicorn club by hitting $1 billion sales a year.
Booking.com is another big success when it comes to using travel technology efficiently. The Predictive Analytics model is being successfully used for marketing, ROI predictions and to make personalized product recommendations which help show relevant hotels, destinations and content to the users.
OTAs can use dynamic pricing tools to forecast flight and hotel prices and send relevant offers to its users, and enhance their customer experience to the T.
Let’s get back to AI-powered automation tools to understand how it can enhance the efficiency of operations among hotel and travel providers. Along with customer segments, travel providers can also create dynamic customer profiles through their automated, AI-powered dashboards. Detailed profiling can help respond faster to customer requests.
Mezi is one such AI-based virtual assistance company that brings superior and unparalleled service to corporate travelers. Its chatbot updates user profiles in real-time and quickly access travelers history anytime, which allows respond faster to customers’ requests. By providing end-to-end booking service and data insights, it also helps OTAs improve their workflow.
Travel giants like Skyscanner and Expedia thrive on big data and artificial intelligence to sort out cheapest fares for the destinations its users search for. They are more like travel search engines that pull out real-time data on pricing, inventory and premium fare options and push best options to its customers.
AI-powered Marketing technology, combined with travel technology enhances data insights and automation for travel providers. There are a lot of other ways chatbots, automation platforms, and dynamic pricing tools can be used to create seamless customer journeys, provide enhanced booking experience, and drive operational efficiency within the travel and tourism industry.
About the Author
Ratna is a communication and content marketing expert with seven years of experience in catering B2B and B2C markets. She has a penchant for cutting edge technologies, especially Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and has extensive experience in SaaS marketing. When she is off her desk, she is either traveling or exploring great places to eat. She truly believes in the power of reading and aspires to be a life coach by helping people build confidence through the power of communication.