A New Age of Smart Tourism: AI and Travel

smart cities tourism
The travel industry is used to transforming itself. As technology has developed, new innovations have revolutionized and automated almost every process, from booking flights to choosing a restaurant. And now the latest Artificial Intelligence tech promises to make tourism even more efficient, with new services like customer service bots and personalized recommendation devices.

And still there are downsides. There are concerns that robots could replace real human expertise in the tourism sector, and the rise of easy-access tourism can have negative and long-lasting consequences for cities and the environment.

But AI can be used to solve the challenges that accessible, automated tourism creates. A new age of smart tourism is beginning. Travel Weekly says that harnessing AI will “dramatically boost the potential for agents to present consumers with personalized, niche travel experiences that they didn’t know they were looking for”. Using AI as an extra tool to understand tourist profiles can provide special, tailor-made experiences, and even promote a move away from mass tourism to the same locations by guiding customers towards lesser known attractions and destinations perfect for them.

An emerging smart tourism movement hopes to positively impact both visitors and the cities that host them. Big data and AI are resources that can help to really understand the needs of locals and tourists alike. Companies, agencies and cities have the opportunity to tap into into intelligent travel technology for social listening. That means they can promote and create culturally, economically, and environmentally beneficial solutions. The goal, as one article says, is to build “a healthier and higher quality place to visit, live and do business in.”

By listening better, travel organizations can be smarter when making strategic decisions. AI makes it possible to “delve into swathes of customer feedback such as surveys and reviews”. But the sheer quantity of information can still be overwhelming. And surveys and reviews are limited pools of data, impersonal accounts that only a tiny number of travelers do.

Using Machine Learning to Actively Listen

That’s where Citibeats comes in. Citibeats goes straight to the source, collecting and interpreting the opinions visitors share on social media and other sites to get real, organic feedback. The Citibeats dashboard is a powerful tool that instantly and visually analyses data, comparing opinions and feelings shared across languages, landmarks and cities. This offers opportunities for genuine insights on visitors’ “sentiment peaks” –their trips’ lows and highs. It means organizations can get new events, spaces and locations on their radar. And it allows companies and cities to make important decisions on promotion, policy and recommendations based on real evidence.
Citibeats did two case studies to show how it works.
First, we analyzed winter tourism experiences in Cork, Ireland during January 2018. By segmenting huge amounts of social media data according to language, positive and negative emotions expressed, and other contextual markers, we helped the City of Cork know where to focus its tourism resources. In our case study, you will see that we recommended more local targeting –as locals outnumbered tourists at key interest sites by 3:1– as well as opportunities to make airport time special and tune into small, grassroots events. Download below for all the details!
Next, Citibeats’ natural language processing tools took on the case of culture in Barcelona. By interpreting visitor opinions and profiles, we showed that the most successful museum exhibitions are for kids and relate to technology. Our data also demonstrated that museums are an important bridge between schools and academia, and we identified ways in which museums can target disconnected players to improve cultural education for all.

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