AI: Travel & Tourism plays catch-up

SINGAPORE, 31 January 2024: A new report from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Microsoft highlights the transformative power of AI (Artificial Intelligence) for Travel & Tourism, marking a commitment to a digital future with unparalleled customer experiences. 

The report warns Travel & Tourism lag behind other consumer-facing industries in AI adoption. AI’s surge across various sectors last year is now a relevant force, and the Travel & Tourism sector must act now to leverage its impact. 

Challenges that must be overcome by Travel & Tourism businesses include a shortage of AI-skilled workers, limited AI infrastructure, and the absence of a formal ‘AI strategy’ in many business plans. 

The first in a series of AI reports, announced during the global tourism body’s event at FITUR and in collaboration with WTTC’s Industry Partner, Microsoft calls on Travel & Tourism to embrace AI and other cutting-edge technologies. 

AI can empower personalised recommendations and marketing strategies by analysing traveller data, optimising pricing strategies through real-time adjustments, and offering instant responses and fine-tuned interactions via sophisticated AI-powered chatbots. 

The report also highlights AI’s capabilities extend to predicting future demand patterns, efficiently allocating resources, and providing valuable insights for governments and Travel & Tourism stakeholders. 

 WTTC President & CEO Julia Simpson said: “As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of Travel & Tourism, AI emerges as a catalyst for positive change. 

“The transformative capabilities highlighted in this report demonstrate that AI is not just a technological advancement; it is a strategic tool that can personalise the customer experience, drive sustainable improvements, and create real-time pricing models.”

Microsoft managing director of travel, transport & logistics, Julie Shainock added: “Using Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Models across the travel sector allows greater productivity for companies and drives a more personalised consumer experience.   

“For travellers, the ability to drive more inspiration and personalised offers at booking to providing tools to consumers to proactively assist them while in destination to anticipate their needs with relevant information to improve their journey. For travel companies, GenAI is there to increase productivity, automate the predictable, and allow our human-centric approach to the high-value moments in travel to shine more.” 

Travel & Tourism businesses are urged to embrace AI as a strategic priority, investing heavily in talent to foster collaboration between humans and AI. 

Amidst concerns about AI’s impact on jobs, the report addresses the potential for job creation, recognising that although AI will be disruptive, it will, in turn, generate new opportunities. 

Responsible data management emerges as a crucial strategy in the quest for sustainable AI practices within the Travel & Tourism sector. 

Implementing measures such as data minimisation, efficient storage, and responsible data disposal becomes pivotal for organisations seeking to minimise their carbon emissions when using new digital technologies and significantly reduce their AI environmental footprint. 

To read the report in full, visit WTTC’s Research Hub
The report is free for WTTC members; non-members can buy the report online after registering.


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