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Travel behaviour in the age of AI and VR

Charuta Fadnis from Phocuswright speaks to the audience.

Charuta Fadnis spoke about how AI is changing the travel industry

In his keynote speech on the Green Stage at ITB Berlin, Rohit Talwar, tourism and civil aviation futurist and CEO of Fast Future, talked about AI’s potential for shaping a more inclusive travel industry. At the same time he called upon actors to give more people a chance to experience travel. Technologies such as AI and VR could not only help to make destination choices. They also had the potential to shape a more inclusive travel industry.

Rohit Talwar was convinced of a widespread pent-up demand for travel after the pandemic. Many people were willing to spend more money and above all explore new destinations and places to stay, on their own continent and elsewhere. Less than 50 per cent of travellers wanted to visit places they knew.

86 per cent of tour companies say AI and ML significantly influences their business model, while in the last ten years alone 211 startups have been established focusing on AI-based data analysis. However, not many travellers make use of ChatGPT and similar technologies for choosing a destination, with 38 per cent actually refusing to use them for planning a trip. 35 per cent do so to compare prices.

For 92 per cent of tourists, their choice of destination comes down to a personal wish list as the main source of inspiration, followed by friends’ or relatives’ travel tips Only 12 per cent let marketing activities influence their choice. In the main, people book directly with providers where they can easily look up all the options. Convenient booking and payment methods are important for most tourists.

Aspects such as the environment and sustainability influence 54 per cent of travel choices. Diversity and inclusion are another matter. Those not belonging to a group generally experiencing disadvantages rarely consider whether tourism companies take these aspects into account. For 72 per cent of travellers however, an armed conflict in the region influences their choice of destination and travel provider.

Rohit Talwar invites the industry to engage in transformative thinking. “Learning is the answer to every question“ is his mantra. Women should be given greater support. He recommends taking new experiences on board and giving those people a chance to travel who for financial or other reasons cannot do so. That way, VR goggles can enable a virtual travel experience.