Virtuoso Life - January/February 2018 - 122
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ONLINE
The future is about to get personal. While artificial intelligence already permeates industries such as finance and health care, it currently tackles fairly rudimentary tasks in the travel industry. For
example, airlines and hotels use the technology in "conversational
chatbots" that understand written language to help customers resolve basic travel queries. That's starting to change: Google Maps
can now help us find parking. Siri predicts (with varying accuracy)
where we're headed at certain times of the day, makes real-time
traffic assessments, and plans the quickest route. And numerous
new travel-oriented firms are applying artificial intelligence and
machine-learning algorithms (dynamic equations that do things
like recommend movies on Netflix based on your viewing habits) to
create seamless and more pleasurable vacations.
Travel is AI's next big leap, believes Craig Webster, a professor of
hospitality management at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Webster studies how the technology will eventually advance
V I RT U O S O L I F E
beyond mere apps and websites and inhabit sophisticated robots
that populate hotels, airports, restaurants, museums, event venues -
just about anywhere tourists go. "Soon we'll see general-service robots that are like a personal valet or concierge," Webster says. "You'll
ask it something and it'll understand you."
A handful of prototypes are already on the job. At a McLean,
Virginia, property, Hilton Worldwide has tested a three-foot-tall robotic concierge named Connie that looks like a Star Wars droid and
can answer common questions typically posed to staff at a reception
desk. Pepper, a humanoid robot, recently joined the Mandarin
Oriental, Las Vegas to help field guest requests and provide directions (and pose for selfies).
Virtually all our travel choices - window or aisle, higher-floor hotel rooms, vegetarian - get recorded, and more and more of that data
will follow us in the real world. "AI algorithms will know the people
you usually travel with, how much money you spend on different
(BRAIN ILLUSTRATION) ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
Artificial intelligence will transform the way we travel.