AI innovation is lagging in travel and tourism sector

30 January 2024
The first in a series of reports on AI by WTTC and Microsoft has been delivered at the International Tourism Trade Fair 2024

by Claire Jenns

Major new reports from industry partners the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and Microsoft have highlighted the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI) for the global travel and tourism industry.

WTTC has announced its commitment to supporting the sector in embracing AI and other cutting-edge technologies to promote sustainability and improve guest experiences.

The report, released at the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) 2024, asserts that AI can empower personalised recommendations and marketing strategies by analysing traveller data, optimise pricing strategies through real-time adjustments, and offer instant responses and fine-tuned interactions via chatbots.

AI’s capabilities also extend to predicting future demand patterns, allocating resources efficiently and providing valuable insights for governments and travel and tourism stakeholders.

Strategic priority

Despite increasing examples of AI applications in travel and tourism, the report reveals that the sector lags behind other consumer-facing industries when it comes to AI adoption. AI’s surge across a number of sectors last year has made an impact, and the sector must act now to leverage it.

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.

Travel and tourism businesses are urged to embrace AI as a strategic priority, investing heavily in talent to foster collaboration between the technlogy and humans. 

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.

WTTC president and CEO Julia Simpson commented: “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.”

Microsoft's managing director of travel, transport, and logistics, Julie Shainock, added: “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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