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We’ve yet to see how Artificial Intelligence will change the travel experience?

We’ve yet to see how Artificial Intelligence will change the travel experience?

Ahead of Phocuswright Europe in Barcelona on June 10-12 and on the heels of what PhocusWire editors are calling “easily the biggest week so far for generative artificial intelligence” in travel, travel leaders have shared their thoughts about how artificial intelligence has impacted the travel experience so far – and where they think it’s headed in the future.

Artificial intelligence will be the key theme at this year’s Phocuswright Europe, which nearly 1,000 representatives from companies across the travel industry are expected to attend.  Phocuswright Europe promises to be pivotal event for travel industry leaders across the continent, offering unparalleled insights and networking opportunities amidst the dynamic backdrop of the recent travel industry boom.

Travel leaders have mixed opinions about whether AI is changing the way we travel:

AI’s impact on travel is on the cusp of exponential growth

Eric La Bonnardière, President of Evaneos, thinks AI’s impact on travel is about to grow exponentially: “AI is already changing the way we travel by providing personalized recommendations, improving service to travelers via chabots or instant assistants available 24/7, or enabling new forms of intelligent tourism through the use of augmented or virtual reality.  As AI continues to advance, its impact on the travel industry is set to grow exponentially.  By enabling local agents and tourism industry players to shed automated tasks, AI will allow them to be more human-centric, focusing on higher value-added projects, such as building new, more authentic and sustainable travel experiences.”

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It will only impact the booking experience

But Henrik Kjellberg, CEO of Awaze, the largest managed vacation rentals and holiday resorts business in Europe, thinks that it is only changing the booking experience – not how we actually travel. “It may not have changed how we travel, but it certainly is impacting how we book travel. In everything from smart dynamic pricing engines to improving how we search for travel, AI already is playing or will increasingly play an important role.”

Travel industry needs to get its data in order

Chris Hemmeter, Managing Director at Thayer Ventures, an investor in early-stage travel tech, thinks that there are barriers to overcome before we can expect to see any noticeable difference.  When asked whether it will change the travel experience, he replied: “Not yet, but it will.  In addition to enabling mass personalization, AI will change the way we discover, plan and experience travel.  None of that will happen, however, before suppliers get their data house in order and address the technical debt in their antiquated tech stacks.”

AI lacks innovation in travel

Gee Mann, CEO at Travlr ID, is optimistic about the future for AI, but thinks there are issues that need to be fixed before the travel industry can truly innovate. “Despite the numerous breakthroughs in AI in recent years, I have not yet seen real innovation in travel based solely on the use of AI. AI still has a tendency to have hallucinations and the models are prone to being poisoned. In spite of that, I’m very optimistic about what the next decade holds. I think travel experiences will transform.”

AI will help companies rebuild their backend tech

Avi Meir, co-founder and CEO at Travelperk, agrees that the real changes are yet to come. “AI hasn’t yet changed the in-trip experience yet, but it will in the near-future. The biggest opportunity for AI in the travel sector today is to rebuild the entire tech stack. We’ve leveraged the technology by transforming the backend, making our teams twice more efficient so travellers can focus on the fun part - booking and managing their trips.”