In an online conference, GlobalData‘s thematic intelligence and travel and tourism analysts underlined the travel industry’s reliance on technology.

The GlobalData webinar, titled “The ever-increasing role of technology and innovation in travel”, was designed to investigate how technology may be utilised to increase travel customisation, produce operational efficiencies and improve visitor experience.

Analysts across GlobalData have emphasised that travel is increasingly reliant on technologically enabled services and concentrated on three major technologies that were said to have “shaken up” the travel industry: artificial intelligence (AI), the cloud and cybersecurity.

Through the use of its patent databases, GlobalData was able to analyse and track the trending themes across the travel and tourism sectors, scoring this with patent publications.

GlobalData travel and tourism analyst Monia Borawi highlighted how AI took a strong lead in patent publications from 2020 to 2023, with a total of 2,793, followed by cybersecurity with 1,04 publications.

Borawi further stated: “Following chat GPT, it has become almost an expectation for companies having to adapt [to the use of AI] in order to stay competitive.”

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Online travel has been noted as the third trending theme across patent publications, with a total of 1,149. Alongside this, according to a GlobalData poll, 38% of consumers are always/frequently affected by the digital advancement of a travel service or product when making purchasing decisions.

Borawi added: “Online travel is especially affected as there is an increase in digitally native consumers, especially as their first source is likely to be online; it is a requirement for companies to have this presence online in order to streamline their offerings.”

Across hiring data, it has been noted that cloud technology jobs remain the highest in demand across 2023, reaching a peak of 4,071 hirings in March 2023, further demonstrating a shift in technological services.

Does generative AI have a meaningful role in travel or is it short-lived hype?

A major topic of discussion on the panel was AI, namely generative AI and how it has the potential to disrupt and reach many parts of the travel and tourism industry.

The GlobalData analysts emphasised how generative AI has received a lot of media attention, making it difficult to break through the noise at times.

They don’t see it going away any time soon but they have determined that companies still need to figure out what function it will play.

Associate analyst Martina Raveni joined the conversation by stating that the key area of AI influence is operational efficiency and streamlining operations, particularly in the aviation sector concerning air traffic control, self-check-in and computer vision processes.

Raveni described that through generative AI models such as chatGPT, we are beginning to see the impact AI has and its power to disrupt every industry.

The importance of generative AI in delivering “high value” outcomes rather than “generic answers” was emphasised by Nicholas Wyatt, a travel and tourism analyst, with responses being tailored to the individual seeking them.

Raveni added how AI can alleviate employment issues: “AI has the ability to alleviate one of the most pressing issues across the travel sector, chronic staff shortages, by automating repetitive work and freeing up people for more vital duties.”

Thematic intelligence analyst David Bicknell described AI as the “lifeblood” of the technology sector, which provides vast amounts of personal data that travel organisations have in their power.