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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE CAN POWER THE EXPECTATIONS OF TODAY’S TRAVELERS

By Samir Abi Frem, CEO of Advanced Digital Technology and Lokalee


In the hospitality and travel industry, personalization is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have. Why? Your customers expect it


Because of personalized experiences in other industries, like Amazon’s e-commerce, Netflix’ streaming services and Starbucks’ coffee, customer expectations of personalization within the hospitality and travel industry have skyrocketed. Exhausted by an indefinite number of options and choices to make, today’s travelers want to be presented with bespoke experiences quickly and accurately. McKinsey research shows that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when this doesn’t happen.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) can power these expectations. Through a combination of data collection, machine learning algorithms, context awareness, and real-time adaptability, AI has developed to understand what travelers want with astonishing accuracy. This intelligence not only enhances the user experience but also streamlines the entire travel planning process, making it more efficient and personalized than ever before.


92% of hoteliers recognize that personalization is important in elevating guest experiences, and 85% feel that personalization could help them to deliver more than 5% growth in incremental revenue, according to the survey, Travel Technology Investment Trends 2024 for Hospitality by Amadeus.


By leveraging artificial intelligence, especially the new applications for generative AI, hotel and travel brands that use data to develop a unified view of the customer will be able to provide more personalization, deliver better service, and increase loyalty, leading to greater customer lifetime value.


AI at scale and speed


The key to rolling out personalization at scale and speed is data. The implementation of AI in the travel and hospitality industry still lags behind other industries. The is often due to fragmented or inferior data, retrieved from many different – and sometimes legacy – systems. Although there are challenges with data in the industry, AI can actually bridge some of the gaps. For example, AI can read and analyze bookings in emails from OTAs that are not connected to a hotel’s PMS to start unifying the data.


One of the ways in which Lokalee uses AI to personalize experiences, which is not necessarily in the public eye, is through the analysis of multilingual reviews of attractions and local experiences to serve personalized recommendations to travelers based on their preferences, keywords and tags.


Another example is how our hotel customers’ data management systems can be connected to the Lokalee AI trip planner engine to craft the personalized itineraries which match the guests’ travel purposes, needs and preferences. 


The traveler’s data footprint


The traveler’s footprint in terms of data is among the largest in the world. Let that sink in. Imagine what you can do with that.


When 600+ hoteliers globally were asked about their plans to personalize the guest experience in the next three years, 48% answered “use AI/analytics for personalized customer services” and 30% answered “to integrate travelers’ personal data across their entire trip”, according to the survey Hospitality in 2025: Automated, intelligent… and more personal by Skift and Oracle Hospitality.


So, how do you kickstart the use of AI-powered personalization technology? Here are my top tips:


·         Invest in robust data management systems to effectively manage your data

·         Prioritize compliance, adopt transparent data practices and obtain consumer consent

·         Upgrade or invest in tech infrastructure and tools

·         Collaborate and share data with other travel and hospitality businesses

·         Prioritize training of your team

·         Focus on customer-centric innovation, gather feedback and monitor industry trends

·         Blend automation with options for human assistance

 

It’s time to start leveraging all that available traveler data. The possibilities for the industry as a whole are infinite when we combine the data with the power of AI to fuel personalization. 

 

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