Employing cognitive computing in travel can assist travelers in planning their getaways and provide for more enjoyable and pleasurable trips.
The way people travel has changed drastically in the past decade or so. With technology being readily available to the average tourist, the way one plans their vacation has changed considerably. Physical maps have been replaced by digital ones and the travel agent by a chatbot. However, these technological advancements will seem insignificant with the introduction of cognitive computing in the travel and tourism industry. The future could very well look like something from The Jetsons, where one describes his traveling criteria to a cognitive computing device, and the device takes care of the rest. Activities such as ticket booking, hotel accommodation, and other travel-related tasks will be automatically done by the cognitive computing-capable device based on the user’s previous travel preferences. The travel and tourism industry has always been proactive in the adoption of technologies like AI, AR, and VR, and it won’t be long before we see the adoption of cognitive computing in travel and tourism on a large scale. Let’s first understand what cognitive computing exactly is.
Cognitive computing is the use of computerized models to simulate the human thought process in complex situations where the answers may be ambiguous and uncertain. People usually confuse cognitive computing with AI. However, there is a vast difference between AI and cognitive computing. Cognitive computing is a subfield of AI and refers to computing that focuses on reasoning and understanding at higher levels.
So how exactly will cognitive computing transform the travel and tourism industry?
Cognitive computing can take care of the traveling needs right from booking tickets for flights and hotels to providing personalized recommendations during travel. It can also automatically modify the itineraries in case things don’t go as planned and provide alternate options. This ensures that travelers can enjoy their trips to the fullest and let cognitive computing worry about everything else. Some of the applications of cognitive computing in travel and tourism are:
The first step of any long-distance travel plan usually involves booking flight tickets. People nowadays often turn to the internet to look for various travel options and compare pricing for different flights or modes of transport. Although the current process of ticket booking has been simplified thanks to the internet, it still requires the user to spend countless hours before zeroing on an option. With cognitive computing, even this process of sitting in front of a laptop or a mobile device to book flight or bus tickets and hotel accommodation will be eliminated. The individual only needs to enter the date of the journey, the destination, the date of return, and everything else will be taken care of by cognitive computing. Cognitive computing, based on previous travel preferences of the user, can book tickets with a similar price point or duration of travel. It can even search and book the best possible flight to reach the destination, albeit if it is at a high cost if the user wishes so. In the case of interconnecting flights, cognitive computing can determine flights with a minimum stoppage or even plan alternate transport, if the connecting flights take a longer time to reach the destination.
Cognitive computing can autonomously make hotel reservations as well as make transportation bookings. It can search for the best hotel deals and choose the most worthy option and book accordingly without requiring intervention from the user.
Traveling to long-distance places usually involves long flights. While there is a lot of content for entertainment on flights, users can spend a lot of time browsing through the available content to find what they like, which can get frustrating. Cognitive computing can automatically create a media list for in-flight entertainment for the traveler. Based on the duration of the flight, it can automatically download web shows or music based on the user’s preferences on the in-flight entertainment console of the user. It can also book in-flight meals based on the dietary preferences and health of the user. Thus, the user can expect a custom-curated travel experience with cognitive computing.
Another area in which cognitive computing stands out is providing users with the best possible deals for their travel. Cognitive computing can check for loyalty points or frequent flying points the user can avail and find the best possible deal. People usually tend to ignore checking for offers, loyalty points, or cashbacks as the process is usually tedious and has hidden terms and conditions. Cognitive computing can simplify the process and assure the individual gets the best buck for his money.
Once the day of travel arrives, cognitive computing can assist the traveler for an easier commute from home to the airport. It can automatically book a taxi depending upon the time of travel without the individual having to book it manually. It can then alert the user of the same and the ETA of the taxi. Thus, the individual need not be concerned about being late to the airport, and cognitive computing can take care of the task autonomously.
Once the traveler has reached the airport, the cognitive computing-enabled device can help with airport navigation. It can provide directions to the ticket counter and provide gate and terminal information. This proves much beneficial in case the individual is visiting an airport for the first time and is having a hard time locating counters. Cognitive devices can also provide translation assistance at foreign destinations. It can understand the foreign language with NLU and translate the same in a language understood by the traveler. Travelers usually have a hard time communicating with locals and often end up wasting time in getting directions from locals. However, with cognitive computing, they can easily converse with people speaking different languages and have a more pleasurable travel experience.
Cognitive computing can act as an individual’s personal guide. It can provide information about monuments, places of interest, and other trivia about the place the individual is visiting. This information can be relayed in real-time at the actual location of the place of interest or in snippets beforehand to make the sightseeing experience more informative. Cognitive computing devices can also arrange for local transportation to reach the places of interest depending upon the user’s preferences. It can book high-end transportation services or arrange local transportation as per the choice of the individual. Cognitive computing-enabled devices can even suggest local cuisines or activities for making the trip more memorable. Travelers usually visit new countries to experience the local culture, and cognitive computing can significantly help in this regard.
One of the most important benefits of cognitive computing in travel is its capabilities to understand and respond to human behavior. This feature can prove highly beneficial in emergencies. Cognitive computing devices can automatically book alternate accommodations or choose different travel options in case of any unforeseen event, thus minimizing the hassle for the traveler. It can also automatically contact support and raise queries with the service provider and follow it up until a resolution is reached. Thus, travelers can be assured that the travel experience isn’t compromised due to any unpleasable event.
Cognitive computing has just arrived at the doorstep of the travel and tourism industry. It is difficult to predict when the technology will completely penetrate the sector. But whenever it does, it is safe to say that the use of cognitive computing in travel and tourism will ease the travel process for travelers and result in a more intuitive, interactive, and customized process and in turn, help the industry flourish. The only major challenge faced by cognitive computing is that the technology isn’t developed enough to be deployed on a large scale. This scenario will, however, change sooner than later as new research brings new developments and advancements in the technology. It won’t be long wherein you’ll just have to say, “Hey Siri! Plan my next vacation for a week to Thailand starting on Christmas Eve,” and all you’ll have to do is pack your bags and wait for the day to arrive.
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.