Industry experts say AI isn’t going anywhere and travel agents who don’t invest in it will soon find they are in the minority. Ten to fifteen years ago, the focus among the agency community was on their mobile strategy.
Today the question is, “What is your AI strategy?” And while nothing has been deployed in large degree to the industry, many travel agents are getting their feet wet with artificial intelligence (AI) through their own internal research and application. But, change is on the horizon, say industry experts.
Marc Casto, president and CEO of Casto Travel, likens the swift progression of AI to degrees in education, advising travel agents to prepare for what will inevitably be the norm. “Presently, AI has the education knowledge of a young toddler, but it will have its bachelor’s degree in two years and its post-baccalaureate two years after that.”
“AI will help travel agents to have a deeper understanding of their customers,” concurred John Ische, president of leading-edge travel technology firm, Trisept Solutions. “AI technology will help agents engage travelers through the vacation lifecycle, ultimately driving greater customer loyalty and enabling agents to gain a greater share of their vacation travel spend.”
Here are some of the reasons why travel advisors should be using AI to their advantage:
AI doesn’t replace the experience, it enhances it
Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Hey Google are already embedded in our everyday lives and have become commonplace in our homes, so why not in your business? Asking for help for flight details, a next calendar event, or sending money, could be as simple as speaking out loud as opposed to adding it to your already very-long “to do” list.
One frequent traveler shared a personal example of how AI enhances her flight experience. “Delta knows I like seat 3C when I’m upgraded to first class, not because I have it in my profile, but because I choose or change to that seat when given the option. Now they choose it for me.”
Problem-solving and time-saving tool
Virtual assistants can take care of mundane activities that give agents more time to dedicate themselves to providing their clients with exceptional customer service.
“Travelers are becoming very sophisticated and tech savvy,” said Ische. “This trend will continue to ramp up. Agents need to be aligned with an integrated front-, mid-, and back-office that will let them focus on what they do best – plan great trips. AI will be the power of the agents in the future.” […]