Travel can gain from the rise of technology where other industries will lose out, says tech guru Jason Bradbury.
Speaking to Travel Weekly at the Advantage Conference the former Gadget Show presenter said the human touch required to find the perfect holiday for customers can be unleashed with the advent of technology to complete manual back office tasks.
He also said that augmented reality – merging the real world with the virtual – is a better option for agencies and operators to explore than virtual reality, which has been widely introduced in recent years.
“AI [artificial intelligence] for a lot of industries is bad news. It makes the shareholders more money and gives them an excuse to get rid of staff.
“But, in the travel industry, the very nature of what you do – which is provide a human interface – the advance of AI can be rally good because that human contact that’s so crucial to the way you do business and has become so obviously important can now be given more time.
“I might have written off travel after the advent of online bookings, but that’s not happened. It’s changed the industry but you have a really exciting opportunity to really define the value of what you do against what a computer can do.”
He cited human creativity in marketing – such as the Travel2 t-shirt he wore to a dine-around at the Advantage Conference at the time of our interview – as an example of how human minds in the industry can be unleashed with the rise of AI.
“When you look around at travel brochure and marketing you see words like bespoke, escorted tours and guided adventures. These are things a computer can’t provide.
“There’s no question in my mind that here’s a industry waking up to the reality that there’s a new future on the horizon.”
On the pros and cons of virtual and augmented reality, Bradbury added: “I’m really big on VR, but is it the right tool for the travel industry? Probably not.
“It’s all about AR. In a travel agency you can open someone’s eyes to a beautiful vista or a resort by the pool or take them to the mountains. You can do that instantly with no real impingement on practicality.”