Monday, April 22, 2024
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Will AI chatbots be helping you plan your next holiday?

by Staff

The German airline Eurowings recently announced the launch of its new Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot for its tour operator brand Eurowings Holidays.

Holly is an AI-supported online travel advisor that not only provides ideas based on individual preferences, but also enables package holidays to be booked immediately. The trips are supposed to be customized, and special requests such as food preferences or physical disabilities are also taken into account.

It all sounds very practical, and the process looks pretty similar to the online booking procedures already on offer.

But those can often prove too complicated and frustrating for many would-be holiday makers. That leads many people back to advice from a travel agency, because the experts there have the expertise to plough through the large databases of offers that you lack.

But if you can soon increasingly feed AI chatbots with your preferences online and they then spit out suitable holidays, the question arises, will we ever need to go to a travel agency again?

The German Travel Association (DRV), which represents the country’s travel agencies, sees artificial intelligence as more of a benefit than a threat to its members. It could make standard tasks easier, leaving employees more time for personalised advice, said Managing Director Dirk Inger recently. The use of AI is already the norm for many tour operators, allowing for the creation of customised offers.

Michael Buller from Germany’s Internet Travel Sales Association (Verband Internet Reisevertrieb, or VIR) thinks AI will have a major influence on how holidays are sold in the future. “It will enable us to provide customers with a better range of offers,” he says.

Buller believes that, at the moment, customers have to know where they want to go, and will get offers based on that – for example for beach holidays in Majorca.

In the future, however, you will be able to enter what is important to you when travelling and how much money you want to spend, and the AI will churn out suitable offers that you may not have had on your radar.

That might be destinations that you hadn’t previously thought of, or forms of travel such as cruises or camping that you have never considered before.

Tourism researcher Martin Lohmann thinks AI will play an increasingly important role in all areas of the travel industry, not just in finding and suggesting suitable holidays – a discipline in which well-trained machines are much faster than humans.

Lohmann also sees great AI potential in the processing of data from individual websites in a central location, allowing customers to “see at a glance what accommodation and leisure activities are on offer in a region.” And, he says, AI could also help travellers avoid overcrowded attractions on particular days.

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