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How Travel & Hospitality Firms Can Meet Soaring Customer Demands This Summer

As customer demand and expectations surge this summer, travel and hospitality businesses face a pivotal moment. Effectively leveraging Generative AI (Gen AI) can help them meet these challenges head-on.

The global travel industry is rebounding from macroeconomic uncertainties and geopolitical challenges. These trends indicate a strong positive outlook for travel this year, providing a great opportunity for tour operators, airlines and hotel groups to meet travelers' evolving expectations. The World Travel & Tourism Council reports that the travel sector’s contribution to the global economy is set to reach an all-time high of USD 11.1 Trillion in 2024.

Customer Demands Continue to Surge

Nearly half of Americans Intend to embark on trips involving flights or hotel stays this summer, spending an average of USD 3,594. This translates to over 118 million Americans spending more than USD 424 Billion on airfare and hotel stays in summer 2024, according to NerdWallet’s annual summer travel survey

A recent Market Impact Report by HFS Research, in partnership with WNS, titled "Pivoting Toward the New Frontier in Travel & Hospitality," reveals that keeping up with changing customer expectations is the top challenge for 36 percent of respondents, with a further 35 percent ranking it second. Notably, 31 percent highlight the demand for personalization as the most significant shift in customer expectations.

Customer loyalty hinges on delivering a seamless and consistent customer experience, from pre-purchase to post-purchase. Customers detest complex navigation on websites and apps, fragmented omni-channel experiences and impersonal digital interactions. While multiple channels offer convenience and reach, they must be integrated and coordinated. Meeting rising customer demand requires travel companies to place customer experience at the core of their operations. This involves blending the best of human and digital elements, with technology supporting everyone within the company to assist customers.

It's Paramount to Get Your Data Practices in Order

According to the study by HFS Research, in partnership with WNS, 45 percent of travel and hospitality organizations cite the lack of data quality and data management as the most significant roadblock to adopting enabling technologies. 

In the quest to meet rising customer expectations, integrating AI is crucial, and it starts with data. Effectively utilizing data allows travel companies to create a 360-degree view of each customer. This comprehensive perspective enables them to offer relevant offers and information, addressing pain points throughout the customer journey—ideally before they arise. The industry’s investment in technology that leverages data is substantial, and many airlines, tour operators, hotel chains and others are already reaping the benefits. By harnessing data with the power of AI, these companies can deliver personalized and seamless customer experiences, ensuring satisfaction and loyalty.

Harness the Power of Gen AI

According to Skift, Gen AI in travel is already valued at USD 28 Billion, with a primary focus on improving productivity and creating curated travel itineraries. A report by management consultant Oliver Wyman indicates that more than one-third of leisure travelers have already used Gen AI-powered tools.

Gen AI can analyze customer preferences and behaviors to provide personalized recommendations for trips, tours, hotels, dining experiences and cultural activities. Chatbots powered by this technology can offer instant, round-the-clock assistance, answering queries, booking services and managing reservations efficiently. Hotel chains can integrate AI-driven voice assistants in rooms, providing guests with a hands-free way to control room settings and access information about hotel services.

Gen AI can also aid in predictive maintenance by analyzing data from flight sensors and comparing it with historical data to foresee potential failures and optimize repair schedules. For instance, AAR Corp, a leading private provider of aviation services, is exploring using Gen AI to enhance inventory management and implement predictive maintenance strategies.

Analyze Market Trends with Gen AI for Strategic Advantage

Travel companies can use Gen AI to analyze market trends and customer data, adjusting pricing strategies dynamically to maximize revenue based on demand fluctuations. It can also help target advertising and social media with bespoke messages and offers for customers.

Gen AI is beginning to transform how travel companies operate. However, its potential to enable the sector to manage demand, improve customer service and meet new challenges brought about by a busy summer of travel is even greater.

AI Can Enhance Guest Feedback & Automate Content Creation

AI significantly enhances guest feedback while automating content creation in the hospitality industry. AI tools analyze guest reviews and real-time feedback to identify common themes and sentiments, providing insights for improvement and allowing hotels to address issues promptly. Integrating Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) into Natural Language Processing (NLP) systems further automates post-call processes such as ticket tagging, call summarization and follow-ups, streamlining customer service. Additionally, Gen AI generates engaging marketing content for materials, social media and websites, ensuring a consistent brand voice while creating high-quality visual content to showcase hotel amenities and services.

AI is Powering the Future of Travel & Hospitality

AI is poised to transform customer experiences through its ability to learn, adapt and collaborate in ways once reserved for human intelligence. By integrating these AI-driven solutions, the travel and hospitality industry can enhance customer satisfaction, optimize operations and stay competitive in an increasingly demanding world.

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