By Jeff Belizaire
PHILADELPHIA, PA - Without people, there is no travel, so it goes without saying that people are at the heart of the industry. Another thing that goes without saying is the latent fear industry employees have over being replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Does the fear of being replaced have any legs to stand on?
Travel Industry Employment
Despite the fact that emerging technology has been integrated into many industries, the travel sector is still going strong. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s data, “Some 119 million jobs worldwide last year were directly attributed to tourism, and the industry created two million new jobs.”
Jobs within the field range from:
- travel agents
- marketing and information
- tour guides
- flight attendants
...and the list goes on. It is a giant industry with many moving parts. The skills necessary are just as varied as the options: communication, geographical knowledge, critical thinking, analytical aptitude… and the list goes on.
When looking at the list of what it takes to work within travel and tourism and the tasks it includes, one thing becomes apparent. Some of the jobs could be performed without human interface.
While there are ample opportunities for humans to work within the industry now, as AI grows, so may the threat of losing positions.
Artificial Intelligence and the Travel Industry
It wouldn’t be all bad for AI to take over either. There are certainly some ways the process of travel could be improved upon by removing human error.
In fact, the industry is ripe for disruption. AI could improve the experience for both suppliers and consumers.
How AI Can Improve Travel for Suppliers
- Create offers for consumers based on their individual wants and needs, which leads to more purchases.
- Increase customer loyalty by offering targeted experiences that satisfy them.
- Analyze, manage, and learn from data that is collected to improve all aspects of marketing.
How AI Can Improve Travel for Consumers
- Use data to determine which products best fit individuals and offer them.
- Do the searching in advance, which removes the need to waste time browsing online databases.
- Communicate through messages instead of lengthy phone calls or voicemails.
Hope for Humans
Although there are many ways in which AI could take over jobs, the human element is not replaceable. Customers thrive on empathy and connection to feel valued and heard. For example, during a crisis AI systems may be able to land a plane, but could it soothe the passengers and keep them calm through the ordeal? No, probably not. The same can be said for the sales process. This means that, at some point in the process, interaction with a live service provider will always be essential. Though when that occurs may (and should) change.
Additionally, the programs and bots need developers to create and maintain them. So even if AI takes over travel jobs, in doing so it will create additional jobs in the field of technology. The only fear that has legs to stand on is the fear of change, because that is inevitable.
Jeff Belizaire is growth marketing professional who has worked in brand marketing, strategy consulting, e-commerce and mobile solutions for over 15 years. In his current role as Head of Growth for Appable, he partners with clients ranging from small startups to large enterprises to build disruptive digital products.