The travel industry is potentially at the dawn of a new era in customer experience, powered by next-generation technology. In this article we’re looking at how technological game-changers promise to transform the travel industry and what they might mean for travelers. We’ll be looking at personalization and automation, with a specific focus on how the latest developments in generative AI offer to unlock the potential of both tech trends.


Let’s start with the fundamentals. A common misconception when people talk about technology solutions is to focus on the technology rather than the problem itself – and the behaviors driving it. Ultimately though, it’s finding and fixing those problems which will unlock the most value, regardless of whether you’re building, buying or partnering on the technology.

Companies should focus on specific use cases and how to design solutions for them – investing time on how the interactions being designed are going to feel for the customers. This can be done by looking at the customer data first, analyzing it to see where the bottlenecks and problems are in the customer journey. 


Personalizing travel experiences to surprise and delight travelers

Personalization can give travelers the powerful feeling of being seen and valued as individuals. These are feelings that can last a lifetime and turn customers into evangelists for the brand responsible.

These kinds of heightened, personalized interactions create brand loyalty that lasts, and convert travelers into brand advocates who are happy to pay more – for more of those moments. They tell others by being vocal to peers and on social channels in recommending those brands, and are more likely to respond positively to upselling and cross-selling. 

Smart personalization can be a gamechanger, giving a brand the ability to tailor its interactions with a customer and satisfy that individual’s needs through understanding their behaviors and preferences. Some of this can be done through technology, present from the consideration phase through to the holiday experience itself and the after-care marketing. And it can happen across every channel, from search to apps, to phone, email and social contact.

Ultimately though, travel is an emotional purchase made for many different reasons, and as good as your tech stack is, a machine can’t know what a holiday means to a traveler with anything like the perception and empathy of a smart, resourceful human agent. 


Tailored recommendations for every traveler pay off

Ideas for places to go and where to stay, tailored to the individual, will always outperform generic suggestions. This might be via data gleaned from a traveler’s previous trips with a company, or through encouraging them to create a travel profile to collect data on their budget and expectations.

This data can then be used to make recommendations on where to stay and what to do. Those recommendations can be made across digital and social channels like email, text or social feeds, and retargeting campaigns can identify and zero in on those travelers most likely to purchase. 


Personalization can help would-be travelers to dream big(ger)

There’s a misconception that personalization only begins after the holiday has been booked, but personalization should start in the consideration stage, what some called ‘the dreaming’ phase of the customer journey.

As much data as possible can be gathered early about travelers before a trip – whether it’s for a honeymoon or a business conference. With the right tech platform in place, all that data can be used to keep track of their preferences, likes, dislikes, and more.

It’s worth pointing out that true personalization is more than simply knowing a guest’s name (and how to pronounce it). It’s also anticipating a customer’s needs and understanding their preferences. On a practical level, the real opportunities to delight customers, and create those moments that really last, are still more likely to be found with human-to-human interactions.  


Don’t wait to automate

As we’ll see below, whether it’s the use of applied-AI to create virtual advisors working in tandem with their still-infinitely more advanced human counterparts, or the next great leap in machine learning, the future is bright. And, increasingly, automated.

Given the complexity of multi-channel CX, it’s no wonder that the holy grail is a seamless, branded experience, one in which customers barely notice (or need to care) about which parts of the journey are automated and which are human.

Whether it’s the customer dreading a marathon wait time to talk to an agent simply to check their flight times, or the travel brand keen to free up their advisors for higher-value interactions with their customers, the key lies in analyzing the customer journey and working out which repetitive, low-value elements could be replaced more easily and efficiently using automation. 

  If it’s done right, automation could be transformational for the travel industry. From seat selection to a schedule enquiry, a booking cancellation or baggage policy question, there are plenty of ways in which thoughtful use of automation can improve the customer journey (before they even make their actual journey).

Making sure that you get every single automated bang for your buck isn’t a simple matter. At Concentrix + Webhelp we have a team of over a thousand consultants, software engineers and conversational designers. Over the years of working with clients to reshape customer journeys using smart automation and CX design, our team has learned a few lessons along the way.


How automation fits into your CX

At Concentrix + Webhelp we think about how automation fits into the customer journey at three different stages. Our aim is to weave intelligent automation throughout, liberating the advisor and customer to have better-informed conversations and richer customer experience.

The first stage is the ‘in-front’ task that replaces the advisor with a machine. Speaking to a machine that not only understands what we said but what we meant (think Siri, Alex, Cortana or chatbots) is now increasingly accepted as part of the customer experience mix.

Next up there’s automation ‘alongside’ the advisor: these are solutions that can boost the performance of an agent during a customer interaction. For example real-time speech transcription can automatically detect when certain products or processes are being discussed, and pro-actively display the relevant knowledge articles or workflows to the advisor in the conversation, reducing handling times and improving the customer experience. 

Similarly, AI can help you talk to customers on their terms in their language. Concentrix + Webnhelp’s Polyglot combines AI and human expertise to deliver high quality, relevant responses in your customers’ native language and channel of choice. Webhelp’s Polyglot empowers advisors to deliver consistent #CX, optimizing performance by up to 50% while delivering 99.7% customer satisfaction.

Finally ‘behind-the-advisor solutions can automate transactions and processes that have been triggered directly by the advisor or customer. It also introduces opportunities for automation to improve the efficiency of shared services which support frontline operations, which might include Finance, HR, Resource Planning, Reporting etc.


How generative AI could help unlock the potential of automation and personalization

Whether it’s a next-generation hotel concierge services powered by machine learning or super-powered booking engines, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to revolutionize both automation and personalization in travel. According to McKinsey research, generative AI could potentially unlock between $2 trillion and $4 trillion in annual value across industries. 

The travel industry has been using AI models for years for tasks like room inventory optimization. Dynamic pricing and revenue optimization give hotels and airlines the ability to optimize pricing strategies by comparing competitor pricing, analyzing demand and more to adjust prices.

But generative AI built on large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT also offers a wealth of new applications (as well as potential risks around copyright and customer trust). 

We’ve already looked at personalization above, and generative AI offers the potential to deliver hyper-personalized travel experiences through hyper-segmentation of data. It can do this because it is able to mimic human intelligence – drawing on vast data sets – and generate its own new content in a much more intuitive format than ever before.

This means it can handle a large range of different language processing tasks, from speech recognition through to sentiment analysis to review a journey. Generative AI offers the potential for brands to personalize travel experiences by understanding a traveler’s individual preferences, their past travel history, and real-time data, and instantly creating destination suggestions, virtual tours and micro-personalized itineraries during discovery and booking.

In the guise of a digital assistant that interacts with customers throughout the journey, it could provide personalized trip itineraries, offer tailored recommendations based on preferences and and help resolve unexpected disruptions on the trip itself.

Take travel content as an example, using gen AI as content creator and manager. In the booking phase, AI-authored content could create personalized narratives that combine useful hotel information (like amenities, opening hours, etc) with a guest’s preferences and interests. It creates hyper-relevant content quickly and efficiently, as well as drastically reducing the costs of production.

Large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT4 can also help transform customer service, whether it’s personalizing Q&A exchanges to combine generic answers with contextualized traveler information, or tools that can help customer service agents by providing them with rapid customer interaction histories that help to reduce average call handling times.


At Concentrix + Webhelp we work with travel, transportation, and tourism organizations around the world. We’d love to talk about how technology trends are impacting your business and the industry, and how we might be able to help.