At the Expedia Group product testing lab, facial recognition software gauges travelers’ feelings as they go through the process of booking hotel rooms online. The Swiss cruise company MSC Cruises is starting to use a virtual assistant to answer passengers’ questions. Designers from the boutique design and research firm the Gettys Group can show hotel executives new room layouts using virtual reality goggles, so hotels don’t need to build a full-scale model. Travel companies are adopting artificial intelligence and other new technologies to look more deeply into what customers want and to use that information to find faster, cheaper ways to improve their offerings. And as sophisticated research tools become less expensive and more widely available, even start-ups in the industry are using them. Competition in every aspect of the travel sector is extremely stiff, and travel companies “need these mechanisms to reach their target markets,” said Alex Susskind, associate dean of academic affairs at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. “They need to know who wants to see pictures before they buy, who decides mainly on price, who likes to speak to someone” and why, he said. Tammy Snow, the director of user experience research at Expedia, said researchers… Read full this story
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