Among the extraordinary technological advances that will take place globally over the next decade, the most potent for the Caribbean may be Artificial intelligence (AI).
This is because its rapid introduction into almost every commercial aspect of tourism means that it will change fundamentally the relationship between visitors, destinations and profitability.
AI is fast becoming a pervasive business tool for those who sell travel, vacations, and services to visitors.
Through the advanced use of logic, it is enabling industry providers to learn in detail about a client’s preferences by taking unstructured data and building predictive models. It does this by monitoring potential visitors daily use of multiple platforms including their internet preferences and their cell phone usage and relating this to all other digitally held information such as the information many supermarkets hold on the groceries they purchase.
To be clear this is not about robots taking over people’s jobs as for the most part tourism remains a people-to-people industry. Rather, it is about the emergence of systems able to undertake a growing number of tasks including reasoning, planning, learning, and problem solving in ways far beyond the capacity of humans to undertake.
What this means is that machines now, and even more so in the next decade, will have the ability to analyse accumulated but previously unused data, enabling almost every aspect of a visitor’s thinking to be predicted. So sophisticated have AI algorithms become that they already enable a seller to follow a traveller from when they first vaguely explore the idea of a vacation, to their activities and location when in-country and what they feel when they return, to then creating a personalised on-line approach that will cause them to return.
At its most obvious, AI offers multiple commercial benefits.