Five examples of innovative AI adoptions in the travel industry

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April 8, 2024

AI has revolutionized a traditionally rigid and demanding segment of the travel sector. From customizing flight information displays at terminals to forecasting operational strategies for dealing with adverse weather conditions mid-air, its innovative applications have brought about transformative changes.

Ahead of CAVU’s AI-focused webinar next month, we examine five stand-out examples of how AI has been used to transform a traditionally challenging or static area of the travel industry. Innovative applications range from personalising the display of flight information in the terminal, to forecasting operational responses to adverse weather conditions in the air.

1) Expedia: simplifying trip planning with AI-powered app integration

AI can help travellers to process vast amounts of data, narrowing down and refining preferences during the trip planning process. Earlier this year, Expedia launched a beta test of a ChatGPT integration into the Expedia app to allow conversational trip planning.

App users can have an AI-powered open-ended conversation in the app and get recommendations on where to go and stay, as well as possible things to see and do while on their trip. The app automatically saves any hotels mentioned in the discussion so the user can come back to them later.

The conversational planning prompts are integrated with the app’s other AI-powered functionality, including price tracking and hotel comparison, to create a fully AI-driven approach to trip research. The customer is guided into their choices rather than being overwhelmed with the opinions on offer.

2) Delta Airlines: personalising in-terminal flight information boards

In a futuristic take on personalisation, Delta Airlines is currently trialling a new Parallel Reality™ experience for passengers travelling through Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The installation uses AI and facial recognition technology to enable up to 100 travellers to view their own tailored flight information on the same screen at the same time.

Instead of having to search for their details on a busy departures board, customers are shown their own flight information and departure gate when they stand within the Parallel Reality™ screen’s viewing area. All the customer needs to do is scan their boarding pass and their own viewing zone is created through non-biometric object detection.

According to Delta, the system works by using different coloured lights to create separate, private viewing zones where each customer can see only their information. These zones move with the customer while they’re near the screen. Although in the test phase, this technology could have huge implications for delivering personalised information.


3) Singapore Changi Airport: offering a personalised, immersive retail experience

Earlier this year, Singapore Changi Airport saw the installation of a new immersive retail experience created by a partnership between Pernod Ricard Global Travel Retail and Lotte Duty Free. The Martell stand uses AI to offer the customer personalised tasting recommendations based on their preferences, before passing these suggestions to a robot bar tender that will prepare and serve the customer’s chosen drink.

While this installation is at the more playful end of AI’s possible applications, it shows the levels of personalisation possible in the airport retail space, and the kind of experiences that customers will come to expect in-terminal.

4) Delta Airlines: modelling operational responses through simulation

In an example of how AI can help to create insight from existing data, Delta Airlines has created a machine-learning platform to help it better predict and prepare for operational challenges. The airline has a wealth of historical data, and using a digital simulation environment, has been using this data to model the impact of – and best response to – hypothetical, disruptive events like bad weather.

This means that, when a challenging situation occurs, Delta’s operational decision makers have a range of possible responses to choose from to ensure that passengers can still travel safely and reliably. The process will be ongoing: the more data Delta has, the better prepared it will be for operational challenges.


5) Brisbane Airport: using AI to reduce emissions and costs

Sustainability remains a key concern in the travel industry, with airports keen to show they’re doing all they can to reduce their environmental impact. Brisbane Airport recently deployed BrainBox AI’s autonomous decarbonisation solution at its airport service centre to dynamically control the air conditioning by gathering and monitoring temperature data.

According to the airport, this reduced energy consumption by 20%, cutting carbon emissions by 22 tonnes over 3 months, with obvious cost benefits too. Following the scheme’s success, Brisbane Airport is now deploying Brainbox AI across the airport as part of its target of net zero emissions by 2025.

AI must be used to complement not replace existing human thought

While robot bar tenders and personalised display screens might sound like they belong in a sci-fi film, AI has brought them into the here and now. And while some of these stand-out implementations are at the flashier, more customer-centric side of the travel experience, it’s clear that there are many behind-the-scenes uses for AI that can improve operational efficiency by enabling better forecasting.

However, the way in which AI is understood, managed, and deployed will be central to its success. In our upcoming webinar, speakers from MAG and CAVU will explore how the travel industry can effectively harness AI’s power by using it to enhance existing capabilities, rather than to replace human thought.

Webinar guest John Hudson, MAG CTO, says:

“While AI holds the potential to revolutionise the aviation industry, it’s not a silver bullet that can solve all of our problems instantaneously.

We need to ensure we harness its power correctly and not push too hard and fast, otherwise AI will end up in the same post-hype graveyard as NFTs and 3D TVs.”

Our webinar will examine AI’s place in the travel industry, outlining how you can unlock the benefits for your business. To get answers to the most pressing questions around AI in travel, and to hear our speakers’ thoughts on its future applications, register to attend.