Travel Agents Trump AI for Emotional Travelers ·

Technology helps, but travel is about the human experience

“Artificial intelligence is here and we need to adapt…”

I’m paraphrasing from a recent address made by the MD of one of Australia’s biggest travel groups. AI is important for me as CIO of STUBA to consider how we are going to use it. For the record, most of my global customers are humans. AI has to benefit you, the travel agent.

But outside of STUBA, travel agents need to understand what it is and how it works  to beat it.

AI is “code” or “algorithms” that can analyse data and make decisions for you,  a step up from deeply insightful reports of “business intelligence” . The next step is to guide you in your decision-making or ultimately, make decisions for you. Its a very grey line though.

Sometimes “AI” tricks us to think we are dealing with a human. Think about Telstra chat bots or those annoying posts from sickly sweet Facebook users that make a politicians newsfeeds appear like they are making popular decisions. They are just bots and not people most of the time.

Algorithms decide what advertising we see on Facebook or the Internet in general through analyzing your search engine history. Including holiday recommendations.

AI can predict how a certain person of a certain postcode with a specific search engine history will want to spend their holiday. With scary accuracy.  Most of the time.

The human touch, human intuition, thinking about something a little bit different, is the frontier for how the humans beat the machines. A great example is the “move to the country” TV show where they profile a buyer, present matching properties and then they throw in the wildcard. It’s often a bit crazy, but often hits the mark. It changes the dynamics of the conversation.

A conversation a machine can’t have that stirs emotion. Because humans have emotion, especially on travel.

A conversation is what leads to the human hook. The hook opens up different options.

That’s where travel agents can keep on top of the algorithm driven behemoths in the travel industry today . Viewing travel products from a higher level, understanding what it delivers to someone, and then throwing outdoor wildcard that changes the dynamics is how you can put the human back into the human touch.

Nothing wrong with reminding your customers of the same.  Ask Dick and Tom.



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