Digital expert Katie King tells Samantha Mayling what Artificial Intelligence means for tourism

Q: What is your background in technology and marketing?

A: My career spans 29 years and I’m managing director of digital marketing agency Zoodikers. I’m a regular international

speaker and frequent commentator on the BBC – and I’ve delivered two TEDx presentations. I am writing a book on Artificial

Intelligence (AI) in marketing and have advised brands including VisitScotland, Montcalm Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Harrods, Arsenal FC, NatWest and more.

Q: What is Business 4.0 and what does it mean for tourism?

A: New technology, such as driverless cars, chatbots and AI, is rapidly changing our world. Devices will intuitively connect

to the internet, and this is known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Business 4.0. It refers to the factory of the

future, where AI becomes the worker of the smart factory. As travel technology becomes

more intelligent, it simplifies access and measurement of data.

Q: How can travel companies harness AI?

A: AI is not science fiction anymore, but an everyday reality. One of the most visible forms is

chatbots – virtual assistants which hold conversations with humans. They represent a great opportunity for travel because they can be 24/7 front-end customer care technicians; act as automated responses for out-of- office hours; and can send post- trip feedback forms to customers.

Artificial intelligence can be a helpful tool, but it cannot replace travel agents – yet

KLM is a pioneer, being the first

to introduce chatbots and send boarding passes via Facebook Messenger.

Q: What are the pitfalls?

A: The risk with AI is not about malevolence, but competence. So much data we are feeding AI is not perfect, so we shouldn’t expect perfect answers at all times.

Unlike humans, AI cannot

currently be improved with experience – and AI continues to practise the human biases which were used to programme it.

Q: Could AI replace the travel agent?

A: AI can be a helpful tool, but it cannot replace travel agents – yet. In the short- to medium-term,

it will provide the sector with augmented intelligence to ensure efficiency and improved customer service.

Q: What trends are you seeing with social media?

A: Savvy travellers are leveraging social media to make travel decisions.

� DIGITAL MARKETING expert Katie King says AI is no longer science fiction but an everyday reality

Social media can expand consumers’ ability to share holiday photos with a wider audience. Hotels and travel agencies have

seized the opportunity and started running social media campaigns and contests to get some credit for their customers’ social media activity.

Q: What tips would you give about social media?

A: The most important thing is to connect with the audience on an emotional level. Create an online reputation by getting customers to post feedback and share experiences on your social media platforms. Post relevant, engaging content, such as travel tips, because the right content always attracts more customers. Advertise the right deals, as

that has a major impact on brand awareness.

One of the best places to start is Facebook. It has the most users

and is used daily by people all over the world.

Q: How can small companies keep up with major players?

A: Technology has advanced so much that small businesses now have tools that are just as good, if not better, than larger firms. CRM (customer relationship management) is a prime example, with cloud-based systems that can be used on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones, allowing you to put your entire business in your pocket. Staying on top of market trends is important, because you need to know what customers want. And make sure you’re posting content at least once a day, if not

several times. ◗ King will speak about Business 4.0 at the Future Global Opportunities for UK Tourism

conference on June 28. futureglobalopportunitiesfor

June 2018 | TravelGBI 9

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