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Cognitive Travel: Transforming the travel experience

Cognitive Travel: Transforming the travel experience

With the emergence of cognitive technologies and artificial intelligence in the travel sector, this particular domain will have the opportunity of transforming itself from a merely commoditized service provider to an active and interactive trip coordinator. Let’s be a bit specific.

Travel - 2 We are particularly dealing with airlines and air travel and transportations in this context.

Travel - 3 What does current market statistics have to say?

According to statistical data, almost 87% of travelers resorted to the virtual platform for planning a significant share of their travel experiences. However, that has not quite transformed the booking scenario and several allied aspects.

From website designs and architecture to visual designs and interaction, results were far from being even satisfactory. However, there is always room for improvement, and that is perhaps highly essential in this regard. If airlines companies fail to take note of the situation now, 3rd party sites such as Expedia and Kayak will have a gala time eating up their revenues.

Finding possibilities and opportunities

Well, that brings us to the question of ‘what to do’? Investing in unproven and unproductive technologies will certainly not be a wise thing to do. However, the most effective solutions might pop up from a few underleveraged areas. Consider the following options:

1. Travel - 4 Utilize the complete potential of existing technologies for personalized travel experiences.
2 Travel - 5 Embrace and greet technological innovations. Let Wi-Fi and other internet-enabled devices rule on-board. Quite inevitably, that will result in personalized travel experiences for users.
3 clip_image010 Think global. Think social. Give a miss to those overwhelmed and preoccupied phone lines. Rather, choose social media as the most appropriate alternative. Not only will it offer better customer interactions, but also offer umpteen opportunities for engaging, learning and responding.
4 clip_image012 The power of inter-dependence and collaboration. Finally, it will be a great decision to collaborate with other industrial sectors and build on the best practices incorporated by them.

Industrial sectors such as hotel, logistics, tourism and others utilize and reap the benefits of cognitive technologies. Whether it is a top-tier logistics enterprise or a high-end hotel, cognitive technologies will ensure predictive analysis. As the consequence, service providers will develop a better understanding of their clients’ preferences, thus providing them with unparalleled services and experiences.

Since customers are not ready to shell out some extra pennies from their pockets, it will be imperative to optimize technologies and incorporate best practices. Remember, you will need to change your designation from ‘travel service providers’ to ‘travel solutions providers.’ Perhaps, this role-reversal or better to say, complete makeover will unfold innumerable opportunities for the airlines sector in the present as well as in future.

While all this is implemented, what is the end user getting eventually:

The future will be all about the customer experience and having 360 degree solutions. The entire travel experience will not just be about booking a ticket, boarding a flight and reaching to your destination. It’s going to become a poem and there will be a lot to read in between the lines.

With the help of cognitive technology, the websites and platforms that you use, will be able to extract data and information from your social media and other browsing activities which can be merged with the information concluded from surveys and research globally, so as to know your interest and what is the most probable things you would like.

Let us outline the entire journey and how cognitive technology will have an impact on it. Imagine this guy Sam (who could be very well you in future as well) – he needs to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Nepal. Let’s outline his experience and his story in the futuristic cognitive world!

Travel - 6When Sam realizes or is informed about the journey

If it is personal work, Sam’s cell phone shoots a mail or interact with the HR of his company to know if he can avail the holidays or not. If yes, an application letter is typed using the available formats on the internet or in his phone. Also, the distance is calculated by his cell phone by taking the data from the internet. Using this data, Sam’s phone figures out what will be the best mode of transport for Sam. Also, the phone knows that Sams like trains over airplanes for smaller distances and hence, the options are shortlisted accordingly.

With the help of Sam’s previous travelling history and also the interests which is obtained from his accounts on ticket booking websites, Sam’s laptop or mobile suggests the possible outcomes which are favourable for him.

Conclusion: Your phone is able to intercept your conversations and interactions and make decisions accordingly.

Travel - 7Before Sam is booking the tickets for the journey

The technology remains overwhelmed, always keen to help Sam by being a step ahead and hence, even before Sam is booking the travel, it is going to come up with proposals and solutions to ease things for Sam. While Sam has been informed or has realized that he has to make the trip, and it is further confirmed, all kind of devices that Sam owns are already working to make the experience richer and smoother. Sam’s phone has informed his close friends about the trip so that they don’t make a plan which he shouldn’t miss.

At the same time, his mobile phone keeps checking the ticket costs and alert him for the minimum ones for the suitable timings for Sam. The tedious process of checking for tickets to get a good deal will be taken care by his phone itself. His computer also tells him what he should not miss since he is going there for the first time.

Had he been a frequent visitor, the computer could have eliminated the places he had been to and suggested a much filtered list. This entire process helps Sam plan out his trip in a much better way.

Also, does Sam have right things for this trip or he needs to go for shopping? Sam’s baby boy – Alex, is he going with him? Is his baby all equipped for it? Nepal is going to be super cold. And Sam’s washing machine knows all the clothes he has and hence suggests the phone to alert Sam to go for shopping and buy some warm clothes for him and Alex.

Cognitive makes pre-booking experience a journey which will make sure that nothing goes wrong while Sam is on his trip. It will make sure that Sam is ready for this trip and so is the world around his and everyone and everything that is connected with Sam!

Conclusion: Your devices knows you and can plan for you accordingly.

Travel - 8Booking Experience

Now, with the help of the emails or  phone calls Sam has made and talked about the trip, the  phone or laptop will start searching for flights/trains or bus on the dates being mentioned. If it is a working day, Sam’s computer can automatically highlight the flights which he can board after his working hours. How does it know Sam’s working days? The phone told the computer. How? Sam puts an alarm on all working days, doesn’t he?

While Sam books the ticket, it can not only suggest what he can eat (based on his interests of course), but also – what would he like to see or read. It knows that while Sam will be on board, he would like to read or watch something. Now since Sam likes Rom-com, the best rom-com movies of all the time have been short listed for his selection. At the same time, the movies which he has watched before have been eliminated. It’s the game of data, information and knowledge and everything is possible!

While Sam is going to book the ticket, the computer knows because of his profiles on social media and of course, GPS, that he is in Kuala Lumpur. If it is raining in Nepal, the computer can check on it and suggest him to buy an umbrella from the favorite ecommerce website of Sam which can be delivered on arrival.

And did he finalize a hotel? It’s Sam’s first time. He doesn’t know. The phone has sent an alert to people in his social circle who have visited Nepal and solicited suggestions for hotels and other things too. Combining it with the list the computer compiled from the internet based on reviews and budgets, Sam has a very crisp list to choose from. Does he have a ride to take him to this hotel? If he didn’t select anything to eat while he was on board, he must be hungry and a famous favorite pastry shop will be on the way to his hotel. Sam loves pastries. He can’t miss that and the computer knows it well. The article on Cognitive Retail gives a good explanation on the future of retail.

Conclusion: Your experiences can be modified according to your interests and life-style

Travel - 9Travelling experience

The whole travel experience has already been smoothened because of cognitive and artificial intelligence. The cab to the airport has been booked and it has been informed about the time of the flight. The cab has already calculated the average time with the help of traffic status of the city.

At the same time, Sam’s phone is in constant touch with the websites that can alert about any kind of last minute delay or cancellations. Sadly, Sam’s flight got delayed and he decided to rest at home rather than waiting at the airport. His phone intimated the hotel in Nepal that Sam will be late but he still needs the room booked. Otherwise, hotel could have cancelled it on the basis of no-show.

Also, when Sam locked the door to leave, his phone intimated all the other devices in the house to hibernate so that power could be saved. At the same time, few electronics like refrigerator would optimize it’s on and off so that minimum power is consumed while the food items in the fridge still stay fresh.

Travel - 10His baggage has been checked in finally at the airport and he moves for security check in and board the flight. After a few minutes, he gets an alert on his phone that his luggage has also been loaded in the same flight and he takes a sigh of relief. His luggage is also secured with smart locks and if anyone would try to break in, Sam will again get an alert. He just can’t let his luggage remain unprotected – even if it is airport.

While he boards the flight, he are presented with his favorite movies according to what he had selected before. Also, his phone has automatically gone to flight mode and has sent an alert to the important people in his contact list about the same.

The food is served hot and fresh – as per his preferences. He recently turned Vegan and the airlines were informed about it by the phone. Moreover, the phone reminds him about the brilliant jacket the airline is offering to buy in-flight which will be needed at Nepal since he didn’t shop enough for the trip.

Conclusion: Your devices become your best friend, guide and companion by communicating on your behalf.

Travel - 11Post Travel

After a soothing and entertaining journey, Sam finally lands. The phone and watch has changed the clock according to the new time-zone. The cab which was booked by Sam’s computer has been alerted by his phone about the landing and the driver is waiting for Sam at the arrivals. The hotel has also been informed about his arrival and the kitchen is in process to cook his favourite dish. Everything is going just brilliant but Sam is feeling a bit dizzy. It must be his blood pressure he realizes.  He informs the phone about the medical condition and the phone suggests the nearby doctor while extracting his entire medical history and sharing it with the hospital. He can’t afford to lose time and health on his trip and the critical situation is handled easily. The driver needs to be communicated that Sam is going to the hospital and not the hotel but Sam doesn’t know the language. His phone translates and conveys the same to driver and gives the directions. Sam sees the doctor and is assured that he is fine and can continue with his trip. The phone shares the trekking plans of Sam with doctor – which doctor advices not to.

Cognitive is all about possibilities – infinite possibilities which will unfold while we would enter the era where cognitive technology will become our companion to help us navigate our life in a smoother and richer way.

Written by Shailendra Kumar
Shailendra is a thought-leader and visionary in the cognitive and analytics space. With the sole motto of making money out of data, he has helped multiple organisations across the globe to generate incremental revenue or optimise cost using machine learning and advanced analytics techniques.