Anshuman Bapna, Chief Product Officer, Goibibo

In order to enhance user experience, deliver better output and improve business efficiency, enterprises in the travel and hospitality industry are making concerted efforts to leverage technologies such as internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud. Big data analytics seems to have emerged as the key disruptor in this sector as it helps companies better understand the behaviour and preferences of travellers, and accordingly come up with customised service options. While these technological advancements have provided several benefits, the deployment and management of these ICT solutions is laden with challenges such as heavy capex and opex, maintenance and management of the requisite infrastructure, and the need to stay updated with the rapidly evolving technological space. Industry experts share their views on the evolving ICT needs of the sector and future technology trends…

What are the key ICT solutions deployed by your organisation? How have they improved your business performance and efficiency?

With the aim to unlock the potential of online services in travel and hospitality, and increase the use of online booking platforms, MakeMyTrip and Goibibo are leveraging technology to increase their reach and enhance user experience – by delivering highly relevant and more personalised content. Goibibo and Make­MyTrip now have one of the smartest customer-facing AI platforms in the Indian online travel space called Gia and Myra respectively.

Conversational platforms are well suited for the post-purchase experience, when customers want support, and information on status and cancellations. These chatbots act as a conversational interface to support the work that was typically done through call centres. The use of AI helps take care of post-booking needs and ex-tract information from various data sets to make accurate predictions about a traveller’s preferences to provide them the most relevant offerings.

How are new-age technologies like AI, cloud, IoT and big data analytics transforming the travel and hospitality industry?

In the travel sector, AI has already started to change the way people are searching for travel-related information and booking their travel. AI is helping travel companies provide tailor-made offers based on the needs and preferences of customers. While past behaviours are being leveraged to predict future purchase actions, deep learning algorithms will help travel companies make the most of their customers’ online activities. New digital mediums like chatbots have opened an advanced dimension taking the customer experience to the next level. Chatbots are already helping airlines and online travel tech companies like ours to handle some of the simpler customer booking transactions, boarding passes, etc., so that human agents can fo­cus on more complex interactions.

“While past behaviours are being leveraged to predict future purchase actions, deep learning algorithms will help travel companies make the most of their customers’ online activities.” Anshuman Bapna

Going forward, what are the key technology trends that will shape the future of the travel and hospitality industry?

The next big frontier in the online travel space is conversational commerce, which combines conversational design and natural language understanding. Travel brands like Goibibo and MakeMyTrip have integrated their chatbots with WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to help customers search hotels and flights. These bots are designed to help customers in searching for flights as well as in in-trip assistance.