Travel and tourism urged to embrace AI despite being ‘disruptive’

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a “pivotal role” in delivering a tailored and enhanced experience for the trade now and in the future.

The claim was made by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Microsoft in the first of a series of new reports highlighting the power of AI.

WTTC believes the technology can empower personalised recommendations and marketing strategies by analysing traveller data, optimising pricing strategies through real-time adjustments, and offering instant responses and fine-tuned interactions via sophisticated AI powered chatbots.

But the report reveals the sector lags other consumer-facing industries in AI adoption.

It highlights AI’s capabilities extend to predicting future demand patterns, allocating resources, and providing insights for governments and sector stakeholders.

Challenges that must be overcome by travel and tourism businesses include a shortage of AI-skilled workers, limited AI infrastructure, and the absence of a formal ‘AI strategy’ in many business plans.

Businesses are urged to embrace AI as a strategic priority, investing heavily in talent to foster collaboration between humans and AI.

Amid concerns about AI’s impact on jobs, the report addresses the potential for job creation, recognising that although AI will be disruptive, it will in turn generate new opportunities.

“This contribution can be pivotal in promoting sustainability with efficient resource management by monitoring and minimising environmental impacts, ensuring a more responsible and sustainable sector,” the WTTC claimed.

President and chief executive Julia Simpson said: “As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of travel and tourism, AI emerges as a catalyst for positive change.

“The transformative capabilities highlighted in this report demonstrate that AI is not just a technological advancement, it is a strategic tool that can personalise the customer experience, drive sustainable improvements, and create real time pricing models.”

Microsoft managing director travel, transport and logistics, Julie Shainock, said: “Using Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Models across the travel sector allows greater productivity for companies and drive a more personalised consumer experience.

“For travellers, the ability to drive more inspiration and personalised offers at booking to providing tools to consumers to proactively assist them while in destination to anticipate their needs with relevant information to improve their journey.

“For travel companies, GenAI is there to increase productivity, automate the predictable, and allow our human centric approach to the high value moments in travel to shine more.”

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