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Artificial intelligence in the tourism sector: The road to a robolution? - Vatel

Artificial intelligence in the tourism sector: The road to a robolution?

During the Forum on the future of Hotel-Restaurant sector organized by Vatel Bordeaux on October 10th, Sophie Lacour tackled Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the tourism sector.

Artificial intelligence is defined by a multitude of algorithms and artificial sensors aimed at reducing human-to-human interaction. In-person customer service are machines capable of facing humans, interacting with them and imitating them. These technological advances are set to greatly transform the tourist’s experience.

Robolution: Robots designed to enhance customer experience

Sophie Lacour, Doctor in Communication and IT Science Docteur outlines the beneficial impacts robots could have on tourists.Thanks to robots, travel or tourist agencies can now attract a broader base of customers by making their premises more accessible to a larger number of customers. Norio, a mediation robot, accompanies people with reduced mobility to visit the Oiron castle in Les Deux-Sèvres.1

Robots can meet expectations of guests who wish to enjoy a unique experience, and can cater to a broader spectrum of needs.Mario is a front desk employee at the Mariott de Gand (Belgium) since 2016. He can speak 19 languages and can memorize a face for a period of 6 months. Welcoming a guest and speaking his own language is a major component of a customer retention policy.

The boundaries of this robolution

According to the paradox of Moravec, simple tasks performed by men can seem complicated for robots. Thus, they have trouble adjusting to small changes such as a thicker carpet, which can lead to a malfunction.Likewise, current robots cannot decipher emotions such as humor, as shown in the Kombini interview of Sophia, which reveals emotionless reactions.

Similarly, they are incapable of understanding a specific context. If a robot sees two people reacting differently to one event, he will lose focus.Robots have no previous experience to draw upon which is particularly inadequate in the tourism sector, as what is required is understanding guests’ desires.

In conclusion, human skills remain more efficient and deliver better performance than robots, specifically in the tourism sector.

Are there any boundaries to these advances, and what will those future inventions unveil? Sophie Lacour suggests that the potential advent of digital DNA could address the issue, whereby each tourist carries a memory chip under his skin storing his individual data. An additional step towards personalization.

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