Artificial Intelligence, Airlines, and What It Means for Startups

Artificial Intelligence, Airlines, and What It Means for Startups

Ciarán Daly

May 16, 2018

3 Min Read

By Jeff Belizaire

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking flight in new industries. It’s no longer just a way to work done more easily, but it’s a catalyst for disrupting the way things work across the globe. To keep up with this change, more startups will be the next wave on the AI sky’s horizon.

AI takes to the skies

Travel is the next major industry vertical slated for disruption by the integration of AI. In fact, this trend has already begun.

A recent survey found that 52% of airlines have plans to integrate AI. This includes going beyond the 14% who are already using chatbots, those who run prediction and warning systems run by the technology, and the ones who made a mobile friendly digital transformation.

Although these changes have been beneficial, a large portion of what goes on in the airline business is run as it was before. Yet new trends are pushing change to the forefront.

The role of data science

There is no absence of data in the travel industry. Helpful information is gleaned from many places such as:

  • Travel agents

  • Promotional affiliates

  • Website traffic logs

  • Travel aggregators

This data has been used to inform decisions since the beginning of the industry. But trying to compile and analyze it all is a daunting challenge. It is worth it though because it helps to develop customer loyalty. According to statements, in 2015 a combination of three well known airlines sold almost $8 billion in miles after optimizing data.

Data helps increase revenue. Not only that, data is essential to online travel.

More opportunities on the horizon

A specific niche in data science that is experiencing an upward trend is AI.

First and foremost, intuitive software can not only aggregate massive amounts of data, but learn from it. AI can be utilized by airlines to:

  • Target customers with advertisements

  • Tailor travel experiences to individual preferences

  • Customized recommendations

  • Accurate price forecasts to that benefit airlines and consumers at the same time

  • Baggage help from robots

  • Provide authentic customer service 24/7 with no delay

Using complex algorithms, AI collects and interprets data. Then it is able to make decisions based on this information. The more data in the background, the less information needed at the forefront.

For example, after analyzing the behavior and spending habits of 1,000 users, AI can detect similarities and key indicators to classify consumers. Predictions are made about new potential buyers using that knowledge and targeted advertisements, suggestions and prices are generated for them in the beginning of their buying journey. This makes for a better customer experience and likewise higher conversion rates.

A hiring frenzy

Behind the scenes of all this innovation are the data scientists and AI developers who make it happen. As a result, these are the people who are in high demand.

One metric indicating just how large the uptick in hires for AI developers is comes in the form of conference attendees. Every year the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference meets to introduce graduates in the field to potential employers. Over the past five years the number of corporate sponsors present at the event has multiplied more than three times what it was.

Similarly, the McKinsey Global Institute predicts that there will be four to five million new data analysis jobs by this year in the United States alone. Where are all of these talented people coming from? The answer for a majority of them is startups.



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.

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