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Published on Monday, June 22, 2020

Expect a significant increase in demand for AI when this crisis ends

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role as the travel industry begins to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, according to Element, the value-added reseller that helps travel management companies (TMCs) to choose the best technology option for them. Its director Gavin Smith explains why.

There is no doubt that this crisis has turned business, consumer and employee operations completely on its head. Home working, increased online buying, home deliveries and swift changes in direction for some companies are becoming the new normal, and it's happened within a matter of months. Businesses that aren't moving quickly or adapting in these times are now struggling.

In the days before Covid-19, the likes of Deloitte were reporting that the travel market alone was growing nearly twice as fast as the retail sector. This now seems a distant memory - even though those reports are only 12 months old. In fact, most travel industry forecasts and predictions from just a few months ago have now become obsolete.

The one area that is still very valid however is technology in travel, specifically artificial intelligence. The industry began shifting towards AI around two years ago and the forecast was for exciting things to come. While progress has been steady since then, AI is going to play a key role as the travel industry begins to emerge from this crisis. 

TMCs, OTAs and operators will need to look for opportunities to keep costs to a minimum, while boosting revenue, and they will need to do it quickly.  Travel businesses should take this opportunity to review and identify strategies to increase efficiency.

AI will enable businesses to become more efficient, creating a smoother, interconnected process across many platforms.  Using AI to perform relatively simple tasks such as flight status updates, TMCs can focus on other critical parts of the business instead of being weighed down with the basics.

The technology will also be used more to improve the traveller experience. By understanding customer pain points and preferences - for example more personal control over their journey via mobile devices - see IATA Global Passenger Survey  - AI can both identify and resolve them.

AI tools will be used to streamline bookings, check-in and security, while Chatbot technology will make it easier to resolve these issues quickly. 

When people start travelling again competition among the operators will be fierce. Travellers have been hit hard by this crisis too, so agents, OTAs and TMCs will go after a market dissatisfied with the way their chosen operator handled their personal situation during Covid-19. 

Business travel will take a while to get back to those heady days before Covid so firms will need to adopt self-booking tools. Operators will be looking for market advantage with processes that offer exciting deals and customer satisfaction while remaining price competitive. This will require a high level of travel tech for automation and efficient post booking processes by using a number of internal and external smart applications that allow them to become profitable, adaptable and innovative.  

The travel industry will need to be ready for when people start travelling for business again. They will need solutions capable of leveraging tools and human expertise.  Experts capable of providing the technologies, as well as the support necessary to make the most of them, will be in great demand as businesses adapt and change the way they operate. 

When you decide on a software vendor, the most important criteria should be that the tools work and deliver what you are looking for. If you need to change your operations check that the technology is flexible and can grow with you.  Experts tech providers and consultants can do this due diligence for you. 

The industry will emerge from this situation stronger than before and businesses that thrive are now looking at how they can implement the tools to help and leverage them to their best advantage.

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