Time to Make Friends with Tech (Including AI)

Thinking about the future can be both joyful and terrifying. After all, the future is uncertain, and uncertainty’s travel companion can either be excitement or anxiety, depending on one’s mental framework. Today, I’d like to try and nudge you in the direction of excitement, or at least further away from the anxious end of the spectrum.

A big issue that’s causing a lot of uncertainty at present, not just in the travel industry but the world at large, is the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence. More specifically, generative AI tools that can quickly answer questions, create convincing imitations of human writing, and even plan travel itineraries. So, is this an existential threat to travel professionals, or is it simply another unfounded panic like when the rise of the internet was supposed to mean the fall of travel agencies everywhere? In short, it’s neither.

While I believe that worries about travel advisors becoming obsolete are and have always been unfounded, I don’t think the rise of AI is trivial or insignificant to our industry. In the age of rapid technological advancement, the role and value of the travel advisor is undergoing a significant transformation. AI and technology are not replacing human agents, but enhancing their capabilities, allowing them to maximize their time with clients and offer more unique and personalized services.

First and foremost, AI-driven tools can handle repetitive and time-consuming tasks that are often the least enjoyable apect of our work. This automation frees up the advisor to focus on what they do best: advising. By leveraging tech to manage the routine tasks, advisors can dedicate more time to understanding their clients’ preferences, building rapport and crafting tailored travel experiences in the process. This not only improves efficiency but also elevates the overall client experience, making each interaction more meaningful and memorable.

Better technology also allows for greater communication and collaboration between advisors and clients. Through platforms like chatbots and virtual assistants, advisors can maintain constant contact with clients, addressing their queries and concerns in real-time. These tools help ensure that clients feel supported throughout their travel journey, from the planning stages to their return home. Additionally, video conferencing tools can facilitate face-to-face meetings regardless of geographical constraints, further strengthening the client-advisor relationship.

Along with better lines of communication, technology simplifies the booking and planning process for both advisor and client. Integrated travel management systems can consolidate all aspects of a trip into one platform, allowing one to book flights, accommodations, and activities seamlessly. Clients can also access their itineraries, make changes, and receive updates through user-friendly mobile apps. This streamlined process not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of errors and miscommunications, resulting in a smoother travel experience.

To be clear, these are just a few of the advancements we can see taking shape today. But there are endless possibilities on the horizon that could further minimize the tediousness of everyday work, allowing interpersonal connections to be dialed up to the max. I’ve talked at length in the past about how the travel business is a relationship business. If that didn’t make sense to you before, I think it will only become clearer in the days ahead. Odds are, you didn’t get into this line of work because you love doing monotonous tasks behind a desk all day. More likely, you’re someone who loves having novel experiences and sharing them with others so much that you made it your profession. I strongly believe that the technological changes we’re seeing today will make the near future a great time to be in your shoes, and that should absolutely fill you with excitement.

Jackie President Nexion Travel Group