How conversational AI is changing communication in tourism
In view of the shortage of skilled workers and digitization, the need for intelligent search functions and chatbot solutions is increasing. If the applications are based on well-structured and open data, conversational AI could transform communication in tourism.
For many people, especially younger ones, the use of voice interfaces is now taken for granted – typing is increasingly perceived as a nuisance. Accordingly, access to tourism data and services in natural language has a high future potential for tourism applications supported by artificial intelligence (AI). It is expected that intelligent voice modules will find their way into all kinds of applications, e.g. voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri in the home or office, in dialog with assistants in the car (with similar dialog functions to voice assistants in the home environment), telephone assistants for customer service (first-level support), chatbots and other applications that are still being tested in the tourism context today, such as the Metaverse or AR/VR applications.
Tourist services are hard to grasp and cannot be tested in advance, which is why guests have a greater need for information before they travel. Offers or activity planning during the vacation are often planned by the guests themselves or on the recommendation of a tourist information, so that customers are active co-creators of their vacation experience. This leads to the fact that tourist services are description-intensive and this information is an important aspect of the travel decision. In view of the increasing shortage of skilled workers and digitization as a whole, the need for intelligent search functions and chatbot solutions that can answer simple queries quickly and accurately is growing accordingly.
Consequently, access to tourism data and services will increasingly be through natural language in the near future, as voice recognition and playback technology has matured and voice exchanges are part of our natural human interaction and communication. Control elements such as keyboard or mouse can therefore be seen as bridge technology. Web browsers and other applications already support voice input. Processing complete correct sentences often yields better results in Google than pure keyword-based searches. Before we look a bit behind the scenes of the data and underlying technology, a practical example:
Finding a suitable bike tour is still a challenge for guests. The simple question: “I want to take a bike ride from here tomorrow. It should last a maximum of three hours and provide a nice play opportunity for the children along the way. Afterwards, we would like to go out for a delicious ice cream.“, can be answered by a tourist info employee in no time, but requires several Google searches or the use of specific apps for the guest. The results are often incomplete and partly outdated, e.g. when asking whether the ice cream parlor is really open.