Data Science, Machine Learning And AI - How these transform travel Agencies


In today's fast-paced world, finding time to travel to a ticket office and get your tickets is a luxury few can afford.

Digital travel sales grew rapidly over the last several years, totaling $564.87 billion in 2016.

If you are searching for some fresh ideas on how to put your data to good use, here are 12 application scenarios for machine learning and data analytics in the travel industry.

Similar to personalized content suggestions on Netflix or the "Featured Recommendations" box on Amazon, online travel booking providers often provide tailored suggestions, based on your recent searches and bookings.

These are only two of the ways to use data-powered recommendation engines in the travel industry.

Following this pattern, online travel agencies can offer car rental deals, alternative travel dates or routes, new travel destinations based on the user's preferences or even some recommended local attractions.

Thus, smart tools which monitor and send out timely alerts with hot deals are currently in high demand in the travel industry.

The AltexSoft data science team has built such an innovative fare predictor tool for one of our clients, a global online travel agency, Fareboom.com.

Working on its core product, a digital travel booking website, we could access and collect historical data about millions of fare searches going back several years.

Analytics-based forecast tools, such as mentioned above, have proven to be a valuable addition to an existing travel booking portal or agency website.

While being applied to flight booking mostly, such tools could be used in other niche areas of the travel and hospitality industry.

Travel booking is only one of the areas being heavily automated by algorithms.

Most often integrating with popular instant messaging apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram or Skype, virtual travel assistants are trained to perform various tasks.

From searching for the cheapest deals, booking flights and making hotel reservations, to planning whole trips and enhancing your overall travel experience through useful information and valuable suggestions about popular tourist destinations, places to eat or local attractions - these are the most popular ways to use AI bots.

Kayak, another popular travel booking service allows you to plan your next trip directly from your Facebook Messenger app.

Aside from large travel agencies, such as Hipmunk or Kayak, the list of travel chatbots is growing instantly.

The application of these AI travel assistants does not end with research and booking.

Once users enable the Kayak skill on Alexa, they can track flights in real-time, explore travel options, and book hotel rooms.

While the chances to get impacted by a storm or a volcano eruption are very small, the risk of a travel disruption is still quite high: there are thousands of delays and several hundreds of canceled flights every day.

The 4site tool, built by Cornerstone Information Systems, aims at enhancing the efficiency of enterprise travel.

The product caters to travelers, travel management companies, and enterprise clients, providing a unique set of features for real-time travel disruption management.

The opportunity for data science here lies in predicting travel disruptions based on available information about weather, current delays, and other airport service data.

Thus, an algorithm trained to monitor this data can send out timely notifications, alerting the users and their travel managers about upcoming disruptions, and automatically put a contingency plan into action.

Not only passengers are affected by travel disruptions; airlines bear significant losses every time a flight is canceled or delayed.

Thus, Amadeus, one of the leading global distribution systems, has introduced Schedule Recovery system, aiming to help airlines mitigate the risks of travel disruption.

The described opportunities are a great example of how data can add value, reduce cost and improve efficiency of travel disruption management.

Not unlike personal travel assistants and intelligent disruption management, airlines can utilize the power of artificial intelligence to streamline the customer support process.

Based on the experiment conducted by Qantas to test the efficiency of their travel disruption system, what takes an experienced professional about 15-20 minutes can be done by an algorithm in under one minute.

Tailored offers for MVCs. The importance of loyalty programs for the travel and hospitality industry continues to grow.

As this number will only increase, travel agencies and hotels already have enough legacy data from loyalty programs to apply the AI-based personalization.

The members of loyalty programs, i.e. most valuable customers, are those users that the travel industry players should focus on first to avoid churn.

According to the McKinsey 2016 report, travel companies and airlines, in particular, have 23x greater likelihood of customer acquisition, 6x customer retention, and 19x larger likelihood of profitability if they are data-driven.

While online travel agencies dominate the room booking sphere, setting data-driven dynamic pricing allows hotels to drive more direct room bookings bypassing intermediaries.

The campaign led to waxed conversion rate, which was 375 percent, and 650 percent increase in share-of-voice for key travel search queries.

According to Juniper Research report, airlines and travel industries suffer from eCommerce fraud the most.

Onwards and upwards: shaping the future of travel tech.

In its report The Future of Travel 2024, Skyscanner reveals the most promising technology trends shaping the travel experience in the upcoming decade.

In only two years since the report was released, data science is clearly one of the most promising technology fields that is changing the way we travel.

With Amadeus alone having a data center with over 37 petabytes of storage, the amount of available travel data is staggering.

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