By now, just about everyone has heard of ChatGPT and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). The focus in travel has generally been on chatbots and generating marketing copy, tour descriptions, and social posts (collectively known as “generative AI”). While that is useful, AI and other related technologies have so much more to offer.
Change is coming. This technology is not to be feared, it’s to be harnessed. Let’s take a look at what the future holds, and how you can capitalize on the opportunities this technology presents in your tour, activity, experience or attraction company.
Editor’s Note: The article below is a sneak preview of an upcoming session at Arival 360 | Orlando on how to Turbo Charge your Team with AI, where TourConnect President & Founder Michael Hermann will share more about how AI can be used to make your team better at what they do.
5 Areas of Artificial Intelligence Impact
Thinking outside the generative AI box, the following areas have many applications for companies to improve and enhance their business processes. Here are a few of the ways AI is already being used, insights on where this is going in the future, and practical tools you can use to get started.
1. Customer Support
Customer support can be a time-consuming process. Manually replying to customer queries by phone or email takes up valuable employee time.
According to a Gartner Group report, customer service reps are increasingly automating portions of their job to make their work easier, often but not always using company-provided tools to do so: Gartner anticipates 30% of reps will do so by 2026.
In the future, AI-powered voice assistants can be used to provide real-time and contextually relevant assistance, revolutionizing customer support interactions.
Here are some other ways you can use AI for customer support:
AI Tools and Resources for Customer Support
- Otter.ai — AI can take automated notes from video meetings
- Wonderchat — AI-based chat with context from your company’s website and other data
- Zendesk — AI-based support with context from your company’s website and other data
- EmailAssist — AI generates email replies with context from your company’s website and other data
- Also, check out The Power of Chat, Arival’s guide to chat technology for experience operators, and the Top Chat and Messaging Providers for Tour & Activity Operators.
Marketing is a fast-paced field, and many marketing professionals have a lot on their plates. Some of these savvy marketers are already using AI to automate many of their tasks.
A study by Drift and Marketing AI Institute revealed that 74 percent of marketers believe they will be intelligently automating more than a quarter of their tasks in the next five years. 41 percent of marketers anticipate half or more of their tasks will be automated by AI in the next five years. At the same time, according to a survey by Salesforce, 51% of marketers are already using generative AI, and 22% more are planning to incorporate it within two years.
Additionally, while generalized marketing campaigns targeting broad audiences have traditionally been the norm in the past, highly focused marketing campaigns which result in higher engagement and conversion rates are quickly becoming the way of the future, and marketers are finding ways to harness AI-enabled data analysis for developing these targeted marketing strategies.
Here are some tools you can use to harness the power of AI for marketing:
With tour, activity and attraction bookings increasingly being made online — as Arival research has found — so too increases the importance of using technology to improve the online reservation and ticketing processes.
The problem of manual and error-prone booking data entry is one that AI can help to solve. Another area where AI can be harnessed is with dynamic pricing strategies.
A report from McKinsey & Company states that companies using dynamic pricing strategies with AI algorithms have seen revenue increases of 2-5%, and margin increases of 5-10%. The latest report from Arival in partnership with Go City also analyzes attraction visitors to uncover how the right customer segmentation and pricing strategy can help operators and attractions grow.
AI-driven algorithms can help inform these dynamic pricing strategies, enabling operators to optimize their revenue by analyzing booking patterns, guest preferences, and other external factors.
AI Tools and Resources for Reservations
Accounting is something that can easily be overlooked or seen as a chore, with labor-intensive invoice reconciliation and payment processes. However it’s literally what pays the bills — so why not use AI to make it easier?
Many accounting professionals are already ahead of the game: a survey conducted by Deloitte found that 47% of executives surveyed said their companies are “skilled in AI”, while 67% already use Machine Learning…here’s the kicker, those statistics are from 2020!
AI-driven systems ensuring accurate and instant invoice reconciliation and payments can help streamline your financial operations.
Here are some AI-driven accounting apps to consider:
5. Staff Scheduling
Scheduling guides and other staff can be a complex process, and communicating manually with individual employees to fill in and adjust schedules can be incredibly time consuming.
This, too, is an area where AI can help. A study by Deloitte found that companies using HR intelligent assistance achieved 50% less time spent by employees on completing administrative tasks and therefore dedicating most of their time to their core responsibilities.
Staff scheduling can be streamlined by AI algorithms analyzing historical data and upcoming bookings to generate optimized staff schedules, enhancing operational efficiency.
Here are some tools that enable you to use AI to assist with staff scheduling:
Editor’s note: Did we miss anything? If you know of or are using any AI tools that you think we should list above, please let us know!
Important Reminder: Keep Focused
While the future will bring powerful technology to your doorstep, it’s important to keep your core focus. It goes without saying that our focus as tour, activity and attraction operators is to provide high quality, memorable experiences to our guests.
At the same time, most of us aim to grow profitable businesses that take care of our teams. Remember, technology is great, but it should not distract your team – it should help your team focus and achieve your goals.
Here are a few broad questions to consider as you evaluate new technologies:
- Enhanced Guest Experiences: Will this AI contribute to a more remarkable experience for our guests?
- Operational Efficiency: Can this AI app help us reduce costs and enhance profitability?
- Revenue Growth: Does this AI tool hold the potential to generate additional revenue or optimize our existing revenue streams?
- Team Empowerment: Will this AI technology meaningfully improve the quality of our team’s work lives?
Change is indeed coming, but AI is not something to be feared—it’s an opportunity to be seized. By anticipating the potential impact of AI on your business and embracing it with a strategic mindset, you position yourself for success in a rapidly changing landscape. Will you be ready to harness the power of AI and shape a future where innovation meets efficiency? The choice is yours. Don’t just be prepared for the AI revolution—embrace it and thrive.
About the Author
Learn More About Using AI at Arival
The evolving uses of AI in travel and the applications for experience operators will be a key focus of the upcoming Arival 360 | Orlando. Michael Hermann from TourConnect will be diving into more details on the ways to use AI beyond chat, alongside Location Engine CEO John Matson in their session Turbo Charging Your Team With AI.
Other AI-related sessions will include:
- Innovation advisor Marc Mekki will be presenting a main stage session on the latest AI developments, and rumor has it AI Alan Touring may be making an appearance as well.
- Phocuswire Editor-in-chief Mitra Sorrells will lead a Townhall Q&A session with Marc Mekki on all things AI and travel;
- Magpie founder and CEO Christian Watts will lead a session on the basics of AI and understanding the ins and outs of how it applies to your business;
- Guest Focus founder Kelsey Tonner and director Chad Krolouski will lead a session on using AI to write irresistible tour descriptions;
- Propellic founder and principal Brennan Bliss will lead a session on the future of search in the age of AI;
- TripSchool founder and CEO Mitch Bach will lead a session on the human revolution against AI, where he promises to give you the tools and strategies to “fight back against the machines and build amazing and authentic human experiences.”
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Header image: Pexels / Pavel Danilyuk