Identifying Gaps in Data: Taking AI to the Next Level

Kevin explores how Artificial Intelligence is transforming the travel industry, making the experience more efficient, personalised and enjoyable.

Explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the travel industry, with a focus on its potential to personalise the travel experience and streamline every step of the journey.

Explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming the travel industry, with a focus on its potential to personalise the travel experience and streamline every step of the journey.

Travel technology expert Kevin O'Shaughnessy, Software Entrepreneur at CityHook, offered a glimpse into the future of travel, where his vision places artificial intelligence (AI) at the forefront, transforming every step of the travel experience by:

  • Focusing on efficiency and simplifying user experiences.
  • Personalising the travel journey and creating a more enjoyable travel experience for every individual.

Alongside tips for maximising the potential of AI, Kevin outlined a 'door-to-door' approach, where AI personalises the entire travel experience, considering everything from booking logistics to suggesting hidden gems.

Role of AI

Kevin shared how businesses are only starting to touch the tip of generative AI's true potential, with rapid developments in this field continuing to improve productivity. Large Language Models (LLMs) are the basis for the effective implementation of AI, with over 1,639 different models currently available on Microsoft Azure AI Studio, one of many platforms where developers share their models.

Kevin showcased real-world examples of AI already revolutionising travel. He discussed chatbots that answer traveller questions and personalised content generation that tailors itineraries to individual preferences. While existing knowledge bases can be integrated with AI-powered chatbots for a more informative user experience, Kevin acknowledged potential challenges like bias in data and over-reliance on AI models. He highlighted Layla, a travel tool using generative AI to provide a more engaging user experience, partnering with trusted booking providers such as Skyscanner and to provide complete and bookable itineraries.

Kevin emphasised the importance of businesses controlling data collection through Google Analytics. This "first-party data" can be used to train AI models and gain valuable insights.  One intriguing point Kevin raised was the issue of content scraping, where AI repurposes existing travel information without attribution. He emphasised the need for clear data ownership as AI reshapes the travel landscape and the importance of ethical frameworks to ensure responsible development and use of this powerful technology.

Training LLMs can be a lengthy process, but it is essential to ensuring accurate and high-quality models. Kevin highlighted how 'red team testing' should be a fundamental component of developing a new model, ensuring that any biases or errors get eliminated before public release. This minimises the possibility of AI hallucinations, which harm brand reputation.

Learn more about the importance of training AI models

CityHook's Vision

After arriving at an airport, people want to travel to their final destination as fast as possible. Kevin outlined how CityHook is designed to be the user interface to solve the fragmentation of airport-to-city transportation services. Through its mapping stack, the company has been able to catalogue different inventory types, enabling travellers to compare all available options for door-to-door travel. This data takes into account every blockage point in the visitor journey, such as queues and interchanges, to alleviate travel anxiety.

Here are some of Kevin's expectations for how AI will shape the future:

  • Explainability and Transparency: While the inner workings of complex AI models might remain opaque, Kevin highlighted the importance of indexing strategies to prioritise data collection and ensure transparency.
  • AI Assistants and Large Language Models (LLMs): Kevin envisions a future where AI assistants like "Rabbit R1" proactively answer questions and Large Action Models (LAMs) automate everyday tasks, like navigating airports or planning itineraries.
  • Shifting Search Landscape: The dominance of traditional search engines might give way to a more conversational approach with chatbots handling travel inquiries.

Beyond the Chat Interface

Kevin welcomed the move away from spreadsheets such as Excel for travel planning, envisioning AI-powered itineraries delivered through familiar channels such as WhatsApp. This transition to using AI to communicate through WhatsApp has already driven strong results, maximising guest engagement, as demonstrated by the partnership between HiJiffy and AMMI Hotels.

Advancements in voice recognition suggest a future dominated by voice interfaces. Kevin mentioned wearable voice assistants and sophisticated voice search features, hinting at a future where voice interaction plays a central role in travel.

Kevin concluded by comparing the Linotype machine to AI, highlighting the inevitability of change. While the travel experience will transform, the joy of discovery will remain. New technologies will simply provide better ways to experience the world.

Key Takeaways

  • AI Revolutionises Travel: From planning trips to experiencing destinations, AI personalises every aspect of travel, creating a seamless 'door-to-door' journey.
  • Data Ownership in the AI Age: Content scraping, where AI repurposes information without attribution, highlights the need for clear data ownership. Meanwhile, transparency is key to ensuring that AI-generated information is accurate and uses verifiable sources of information.
  • Ethical Considerations: Organisations need a strategic vision for how AI will help to achieve their objectives. Potential pitfalls like data biases and an over-reliance on AI models require strong ethical frameworks for responsible implementation of this technology.
  • User Interface Revolution: AI will become a tool integrated across all user interfaces. Moving beyond just chatbots, AI will become a new search tool accessible on all digital platforms, with voice search features supported by AI becoming increasingly commonplace.
Published on:
May 2024
About the contributor

Kevin O’Shaughnessy

Kevin is a software builder, with a track record delivering complex mobile software and travel technology programmes. He is the founder of the CityHook airport-to-city data platform and a chapter leader of TravelMassive in Dublin and the voice of their podcast.