Privacy vs. artificial intelligence in the Travel sector

Artificial intelligence could boost the next generation of travel. More and more travellers are considering the advantages that the use of technology based on artificial intelligence would imply, both to customise their trips and to gain in security and comfort. 

For example, offering services such as predictive risk alerts on natural disasters. Thanks to the analysis of thousands of variables, possible contingencies could be anticipated and, therefore, measures to prevent them could be taken to improve the traveller’s experience. It would also enable recreating a perfect travel scenario for each user, based on their preferences.

However, despite these benefits, a powerful obstacle prevents the standardisation of its use: distrust. Travellers (and people in general) are less and less willing to share personal information, yet necessary for the analysis and application of artificial intelligence. After the notorious scandals related to the use of personal data in a fraudulent way by social networks, and in the framework of the new General Data Protection Regulation implemented in Europe, the reluctance to share private data harms this trend.

Artificial intelligence systems need data to “learn” by themselves. Without data, they cannot improve, and, for the moment, it seems that people are not willing to share their data blithely, except for their biometrics, information that users divulge shamelessly through social networks.

Hotels and travel applications have long used algorithms to adjust prices and offer vacation packages. But artificial intelligence allows search engines and applications to go a step further, obtaining more information about users’ online behaviour, building a more complex profile and anticipating their needs. This often means giving them access to all their personal data.

Several travel apps have begun to incorporate artificial intelligence and work considering a large amount of data about travellers and anticipating their choices. According to Greg Oates, senior editor of the Skift travel site, technology can help machines overcome traditional search engines and real humans (including travel agencies) in terms of speed and efficiency. “The Holy Grail for today’s travel brands is to customise the guest experience,” he said. “Artificial intelligence really helps with that because it can process so much data and connect points between users much faster than traditional search.”

Thus, the great challenge for the tourism companies that build systems based on artificial intelligence will be to demonstrate that they meet the expectations of privacy and data protection of their customers.

Reference information: MarketWatch

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