AI technology marked as having the biggest impact on travel, but stumbling blocks remain

AI technology marked as having the biggest impact on travel, but stumbling blocks remain
by Marissa Trew,
in News,

According to Travel Technology Europe’s annual survey, 70{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} of respondents believe artificial intelligence (AI) will have the biggest impact on travel, with 55{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} saying that they have already invested or planned to invest in AI in the near future. Voice tech came a distant second (29{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}), with augmented reality (AR) and biometrics tied at 21{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}.

It suggests that smart technology
investments are now top of mind for travel companies – shedding any remaining
scepticism regarding whether it would yield any tangible benefit to companies.

However, companies are still sticking to
relatively similar tech budgets as with previous years, with most respondents
budgeting up to £9,999 for new tech (18{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}). There was a decline in the
percentage of companies budgeting over £100,000, from 34.4{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} in 2018 to 28{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} in
2019, as well as an increase in the number of respondents who felt they didn’t
know what budget they would allocate to new tech.

Despite the increasingly positive
perception of AI as essential in the industry, it is evident that many are
unclear on how much to invest, which technologies could yield the most benefit
for their businesses, and how to implement them.

This was also reflected in the survey as
respondents flagged legacy infrastructure (48{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}) as one of the biggest
hindrances to digital transformation. They also identified knowledge gaps (45{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644})
and budget (39{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}) as prominent barriers, with over 25{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} stating it was down to a
lack of corporate vision. Less prominent but significant obstacles included
time to implement and train, pace of technological change and the fragmentation
between technology suppliers.

Importantly, just under one third of
respondents stated talent and skill gaps presented a significant hurdle, with
40{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644} also saying that the technology skill gap was one of the biggest challenges
facing the industry overall. It shows a gulf between the industry’s
technological ambitions and the practical know-how it takes to implement it.

Beyond technology, economic uncertainty was
regarded as the biggest challenge facing the industry (53{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}). The survey was
conducted as the UK approached a general election, which may have impacted how
participants responded.

Sustainable travel (45{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}) and climate change
(44{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}) were also regarded as two major industry challenges, although ‘eco
travel’ was simultaneously regarded as a trend to watch by approximately half
of respondents.

Over half of respondents believe electric
and hybrid technology will drive the rise of sustainable travel. This was
followed closely by Big Data (44{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}), which could help businesses identify
patterns and trends between consumer behaviour and their services. Geo-location
(36{2e54b6599e2852fcddcb96c51aef71201c0435684ebd8fbda55b4c693aab2644}) was also tapped for its ability to help users navigated destinations and
uncover local attractions and transport options, which could boost local
economies. Almost a third of respondents also identified carbob calculators as
having growing importance in the industry drive to become more sustainable, by
helping travellers understand their impact and how to mitigate it.

Find out more at the TTE 2020 Conference, February 26-27, Olympia London.
Speakers include:
Thierry Gnych, European Lead, Cognitive & Industry Solutions, IBM Travel/Transportation
Chris Anstey, Mobile Lead, Google
Denis Baranov, Principal Consultant, DataArt
Rachel O’Brien, Chief Technology Transformation Officer, CWT …and many more.

Lead image: Getty Images