Traditional travel agencies need to employ Artificial Intelligence (AI) that must filter into medium-level companies as well, a global summit said here today even as it took note of how influencers in tourism manage information using sophisticated and innovative methods to serve the needs of consumers and breathe new vitality in the hospitality industry.
Speakers at the International Conference on Tourism Technology (ICTT) 2019 highlighted the ways of using AI to offer personalization of guests in the hospitality industry along the whole travel process, while a couple of other sessions dealt with the importance of successful digital campaigns to attract the target audience.
The September 26-27 ICCT, organised by Association of Tourism Trade Organisations, India (ATTOI) in association with the Kerala government’s Department of Tourism, saw delegates discussing ways to catch up with improved technology that is defining advancements in tourism the world over.
At a session titled ‘Artificial Intelligence and Travel Revolution’, Europe-based expert Hannes Losch said the implementation of AI, which uses machines to simulate cognitive functions of the human mind, “is all about personalization of knowing your customer.”
The use of AI is already in vogue in food and beverage (F&B) segment in several parts of the world, while service automation has been pushed to its limits, added the speaker, known for his eminence in developing intelligent analytics and business intelligence solutions.
Of late, the cruise industry, too, is resorting to AI, said Losch, who is the founder of Limendo, a technology and consulting company based in Bolzano of South Tyrol in Italy. He had served as a management consultant at A.T. Kearney in Zurich with a focus on corporate strategy.
At another session on ‘Impact of Influential Marketing in Tourism’, digital marketing strategist Ellie Shedden spoke of the vitality of a thorough understanding of one’s intended audience and ultimate goals to help understand the entire gamut of the marketing plan.
According to the speaker, who is founder of oop.com, more and more travelers of late prefer influencers’ opinion to advertisements. They choose agencies, hotels, airlines and even travel directions based on the advice of influencers, she noted.
“Companies offering predefined descriptions of the products get much less traction compared to influencers. Today influencers manage the information themselves,” Shedden said. “Spontaneous and real-life stories influence follower choice more effectively. The most popular are social media stories, where influencers share their experience, gained in different places.”
She emphasized the need for businesses to understand their target audience before zeroing in on the influencers and opt for multi-platform campaigns. “Multi-platform campaigns ensure that outreach of the campaign is much larger compared to a single-platform. At the same time, you must also understand your target audience before starting the campaign,” she said.
“For example, if your target audience is 60 years and above, an Instagram campaign will not be a perfect choice; instead you should opt for a Facebook campaign followed by a YouTube and blogging,” went her reasoning.
At another session on ‘Secrets of Search Engine Rankings’, David Carollo of Singapore said algorithms continue to evolve, perpetually making thousands of improvements. “Those tasked with creating or optimizing content need to be aware of these modifications and their effect. To stay competitive in search in 2020, you need an optimization approach that reflects a successful search engine result,” he added.
The search engine results are generally tracking tools attempting to provide an answer with algorithms that combine lots of factors: search volumes, ranking positions, conversion rate and user intent. “There are over 20,000 algorithms but we cannot apply all of it. Instead we have to figure out which are the best tags, descriptions and SEO title that will get us the maximum number of tractions. Try to keep a single focus for maximum result by using structured data to optimise content,” said the speaker, founder of WeBranding Digital Marketing.
He pointed out that comprehensive content significantly helps the option in search engine results. “Avoid using generic phases; instead use keywords in the title of the page. Google’s search algorithms have become more sophisticated as search queries have become more complex. Ensure that you link relevant subjects/topics only,” he said. “For example, if you are a hotel based in Kochi and you have linked a page of 10 things to do in Kochi is very relevant. Google will accept it compared to random link on travel. So, ensure you have optimum SEO for maximum output.”
Shane Dallas, social media specialist, trainer and travel photographer, concluded the day’s sessions with his presentation on tips to becoming a good digital photographer.
Earlier, Shedden also spoke about the importance of choosing the right influencer for launching a campaign. “While choosing the influencer, check the audience engagement the influencer has. Generally, a micro-influencer or a medium size influencer has more audience interaction compared to a celebrity or an influencer with over one million followers,” she said. “That is why the trend to engage micro-influencers into tourism is becoming more and more popular.”
She said it is important to “choose an influencer who understands your brand and deliver accordingly. You must make a contract with the influencer, so that the outreach is more. A good example of companies and influencers interaction was a campaign by Avoya Travel, a travel agency which understood that more and more people are booking their travel online and not approaching travel agency. So, they tied up with influencers and created interesting content made for brand awareness, and this is also the case of how companies and influencers’ cooperation may be mutually profitable.”
The conclave at Le Meridian has experts from across the world discussing newest trends in AI application on tourism and intelligent use of apps that are giving the industry new energy and vitality.
The inaugural ICTT was held in 2013, followed by a second edition in 2017 — all with idea of meeting the demand and supply of changing business situations even as the tourism community is comprehensively reliant on expertise and modernisation.
The conference enables the travel and tourism industrialists in India and neighbouring countries to acclimatize to the varying technologies, obtaining skills in surviving/winning over competitors, comprehending the significance of web marketing and the use of the resources accessible online to run businesses.