Schedule a Demo Sign In

Smart Tourism: AI and Travel

back of a woman wearing a backpack walking down a city street

The travel industry is constantly transforming. As technology develops, innovations revolutionize and automate almost every process, from booking a flight to choosing a restaurant. Now, the latest artificial intelligence promises to make tourism even more efficient through new services, like customer service bots and personalized recommendation devices.

Still, there are downsides. Concerns exist that robots could replace human expertise in the tourism sector. Additionally, the rise of easy-access tourism could have negative and long-lasting consequences for cities and the environment.

But AI can also be used to solve the challenges that accessible, automated tourism creates. A new age of smart tourism is beginning. Travel Weekly says that harnessing AI will “dramatically boost the potential for agents to present consumers with personalized, niche travel experiences that they didn’t know they were looking for.” Using AI to understand tourist profiles can provide tailor-made experiences and even promote a move away from mass tourism to popular attractions by guiding customers towards lesser-known destinations perfect for them.

An emerging smart tourism movement hopes to positively impact both visitors and the cities that host them. Big data and AI can help us understand the needs of locals and tourists alike. Companies, agencies, and cities have the opportunity to tap into intelligent travel technology for social listening. That means they can promote and create culturally, economically, and environmentally beneficial solutions. As one article states, the goal is to build “a healthier and higher quality place to visit, live and do business in.”

By listening, travel organizations can be smarter about making strategic decisions. AI makes it possible to delve into “swathes of customer feedback such as surveys and reviews.” But the sheer quantity of information can still be overwhelming, and surveys and reviews are limited pools of data relying on impersonal accounts from a tiny number of travelers.

Using Machine Learning to Actively Listen

That’s where Citibeats comes in. Citibeats goes straight to the source, collecting and interpreting the opinions visitors share on social media and other sites to get real, organic feedback. The Citibeats dashboard is a powerful tool that instantly and visually analyzes data, comparing opinions shared across languages, landmarks, and cities. This offers opportunities for genuine insights on visitors’ “sentiment peaks”—the highs and lows of their trips. It also means that organizations can become aware of new events, spaces, and locations. What’s more, it allows companies and cities to make important decisions based on real evidence.

Citibeats did two case studies to show how it works.

First, we analyzed winter tourism experiences in Cork, Ireland during January 2018. By segmenting huge amounts of social media data according to language, positive and negative emotions, and other contextual markers, we helped the city of Cork know where to focus its tourism resources. In our case study, we recommended more local targeting because locals outnumbered tourists at key interest sites by 3:1. We also detected opportunities to make airport time special and tune into small, grassroots events. 

Next, Citibeats’ natural language processing tools took on the case of culture in Barcelona. By interpreting visitor opinions and profiles, we showed that the most successful museum exhibitions are for kids and relate to technology. Our data also demonstrated that museums are an important bridge between schools and academia, and we identified ways in which museums could target disconnected guests to improve cultural education.