Implementing natural language processing (NLP) in travel and tourism can empower businesses to streamline their operations as well as improve the customer experience by intelligently understanding context and language.
The travel industry is vast, encompassing many small sectors. Holiday planning websites, the aviation sector, the hospitality industry, and the government sector together form the travel industry. These multiple sectors are interdependent on each other and can contribute to the growth of others. However, each sector has its own set of challenges.
The shortcomings of one sector can result in a loss for other players involved. For example, if an individual has trouble booking flights for a particular airline or location, they might switch to another airline or look for another vacation destination. This can affect not only the airlines but also the earning for hotels where the individual might have stayed, the local expenditure on transportation, the income the government might have generated from the individual visiting paid tourist spots in the country during their stay. The use of NLP in travel and tourism can help solve issues faced by all the major components of the industry. This can help provide a hassle-free experience to tourists and help businesses streamline their operations, thus benefiting one and all.
The global travel industry is massive. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the global tourism and travel industry contributed USD 2.9 trillion to the global GDP. However, the industry can progress and contribute further if some of the inefficiencies it faces are eliminated. The use of NLP in travel and tourism aims at improving the efficiency of the major processes involved. A few ways in which NLP can help the travel industry include:
The first stage for any travel plan is booking and reservations. This includes choosing the airlines, arranging local taxi services, and hotel room reservations. Most travelers encounter difficulties in the first stage itself. Finding the shortest airline duration, the cheapest flights, and hotel accommodations at low prices can get tiresome and confusing. Individuals then usually resort to having a conversation with customer support to get their doubts clarified. Web travel portals, airline websites, and hotel aggregation sites can leverage NLP in the form of chatbots to simplify the booking process.
An NLP chatbot can help answer general questions such as ‘What is the discount coupon available for the flight?’ or ‘Does the hotel have free Wi-Fi?’. The NLP chatbot can easily answer such questions with the help of artificial intelligence algorithms that can fetch the correct information by understanding the context of the questions asked. The NLP chatbot can be completely automated, i.e., autonomously respond to questions, or it can be employed as an assistance tool to help human employees better. It can help the customer care executive identify key parameters in the chat with the customer and help better respond to their grievances. For example, a customer service agent might find it difficult to understand a foreign language. NLP and NLU tools can help translate and identify key points in the conversation, and the employee can respond appropriately. Another advantage of using NLP chatbots is that they work round-the-clock and thus are present to respond to queries any time of the day and minimizes the need for human resources.
The next step in the travel plan is deciding how to spend the vacation. This includes deciding the place to stay, the number of days to stay, the type of hotel to choose, and the places that need to be visited on a priority basis. Natural language processing tools can be of great help in this aspect as they can help in suggesting and curating custom travel packages for individuals. The NLP tools analyze the individual’s search preferences regarding their holiday. This includes data regarding the destination, the vacation duration, and the budget preferences of the individual. All of this data combined forms big data which can be analyzed by artificial intelligence algorithms and NLP tools to create custom tour packages that rightly fit the individual’s pocket while providing him the experience he is looking for.
The use of NLP in travel and tourism is not only customer-centric but is also business-oriented. NLP tools can help streamline business processes that can help improve the financial and reputational status of the business. For example, airlines and other transportation companies can improve their maintenance procedures with the help of NLP tools. For instance, NLP tools can significantly help airlines with aircraft maintenance procedures. The tools can help maintenance and repair technicians easily understand information from complex manuals. Thus, a lot of time, money, and resources can be saved by providing the employees with information in a quick and easily understandable manner. Similarly, NLP tools can help recognize handwritten notes that are usually difficult for other individuals to understand.
The hotel industry can see a complete revamp with the help of NLP tools. These tools possess the capabilities to redefine the stay experience for individuals. NLP and NLU tools in the form of voice assistants can be employed in hotels. These tools can help carry out tasks such as adjusting the AC temperature, turning on or off the lights in the room, or playing your favorite web series on a television set. Voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri, or a customized voice assistant can be leveraged to provide personal voice assistance to guests at the hotel. Similarly, AI-driven robots with NLP and NLU capabilities can provide an enhanced room service experience. These robots can understand the customer’s needs and provide services accordingly. For example, they can be used to deliver food items, take the customer’s clothes for washing, and even be used for cleaning the hotel rooms according to the instructions provided.
Additionally, voice and facial recognition technology can help to provide a more secure experience to visitors. These technologies can be used to identify guests that are entering, staying, or leaving the hotel premises, and this can prove beneficial in an unlawful event. For example, in case of theft, voice and facial recognition technologies can help identify the culprit easily.
NLP and NLU tools can prove to be a great benefit for people facing language barriers. These tools can be used to automatically translate texts on signboards and help tourists easily get directions to the desired location. Similarly, these tools can help with ticketing at sightseeing places by improving the conversations between employees and the tourists, help easily understand timings and other instructions provided by informatory boards, and even suggest other nearby attractions depending upon the user’s location in an easy to understand manner. For example, NLP tools can be used for real-time voice translations. This helps improve communication between individuals and the tourist don’t have to rely on sign and direction boards and can easily seek the help of locals.
Implementing NLP in travel provides an end-to-end solution for tourists and travelers. It can definitely help attract more travelers to your travel portal, your hotel, and your country. With the enhanced experience, thanks to NLP tools, individuals are expected to spend more on their travel plans. Thus, it helps increase revenues for private players as well as the government. The efficiency and accuracy of NLP tools will improve with an increase in data provided by customers that can be used to train the algorithms further. Thus, a truly seamless experience for travelers and increased revenue for businesses can be expected in the travel and tourism industry with the help of NLP.
Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.