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January 25, 2017

A New Type of Travel Agency: AI Meets Human Expertise

Over the last two decades, OTAs and direct-supplier ticketing websites have revolutionized the industry and forced many brick-and-mortar travel agencies to reinvent themselves, find their niche, or close their doors altogether.

Many of the travel agencies that remain standing serve a wealthy clientele. When Travel + Leisure wrote about the importance of travel agents in May 2015, they cited trips like a 32-person, two week, six city trip across India as an example that highlights a travel agent’s indispensability.2 While one may appreciate the services provided to make this trip possible, it is not a relatable scenario to most travelers. Yet, according to IBIS World, the travel agency industry is growing once again and showing signs of a broad turn to experts to help plan travel.3

We see four trends that will increase demand for travel agents in the near future:

  1. OTAs that serve endless choices, not solutions
  2. The possibility for better, more personalized recommendations powered by big data and artificial intelligence (AI)
  3. A new generation of travelers who have come of age on mobile devices
  4. The ongoing premium placed on 'authenticity'

When it comes to booking, our study showed 79% of individuals want customization and ease. The majority (56%) of those surveyed have used a travel agent in the past, citing deals, time savings, and expert advice as the best reasons to use a travel agent. Of those who had not used an agent, 30% didn’t do so because they enjoyed the planning process and 25% found it to be too expensive. Another 21% said, “I trust myself more.”

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Importantly, frequent travelers value an agent’s expertise and ability to save time, whereas infrequent ones value an agent’s ability to save money and stress. While 85% of individuals are willing to have another party help plan their trip, agencies need to help consumers understand more clearly how they offer personalization that demonstrates desirable ROI.

Traditional travel agents should also be warned of new services like Lola, which fuse a chat interface, AI and human expertise to generate trips.

Lola offers a glimpse at the future of travel agencies – personal, immediate and delivered through a chat interface. The brand deliberately avoids the data tables that plague almost all other booking experiences. It is the only travel experience we know of that is built for an audience who has come of age conversing through mobile intermediaries.

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Key Takeaways:

  • A combination of AI and human expertise is about to disrupt the travel agency industry.
  • Travelers are receptive to planning assistance for an agent provided there is demonstrable ROI (time saved, money saved, expertise, or personalization).

To learn more, download our newest Whitepaper, ‘Targeting Moments of Need in the new Travel Landscape’ – here.

January 4, 2017

Google Tilt Brush – Artist in Residence

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Google recently teamed up with various artists, painters, cartoonists, dancers, designers, and other creators for a unique Artist in Residence program. Each artist was given the chance to work with Tilt Brush – a new virtual reality tool that let’s you draw and create in 3D space.  The Google team worked closely with each artist to further develop the tool and ultimately better understand the potential of this new form of art creation.

Step into your imagination

December 16, 2016

The Most Futuristic Predictions That Came True in 2016

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From advancements in AI to major medical breakthroughs Gizmodo recaps the most futuristic developments that became realities in 2016.

Welcome to the future.

December 14, 2016

The Great A.I. Awakening

Screen Shot 2016-12-14 at 11.05.15 AM.pngHow Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, one of its more popular services — and how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself. 

You are what you have read.

December 6, 2016

How AI Will Create the Perfect Ad for Every Individual

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The advertising industry has made huge strides in targeting, but there's one more big step to take to make ads truly relevant: We need to adapt each creative message so it is interactive and personalized to every single individual. The key to achieving what may be the holy grail of advertising is a thriving branch of artificial intelligence known as deep learning. It uses algorithms to mimic neural networks' capabilities to recognize and act on abstract patterns.

Closer than you may think.

October 31, 2016

Why Google’s New Phone Will Soon Be Irrelevant

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Anyone who has tried the Pixel phone will notice how similar it feels to other top-of-the-line smartphones. Certainly newsworthy is the supercharging speed that allows users to gain seven hours’ worth of battery life after a mere 15-minute charge. Still, Pixel lacks other features, like waterproofing and stereo speakers, touted by Apple’s iPhone 7. In short, Google has yet to differentiate itself function by function based on hardware design. If history is a guide, however, all of these hardware furies will be short-lived. Like Intel, Google’s priority is only to advance the paradigm of consumer electronics to fully embrace AI at its very core. 

Pixel and Google Assistant.

October 26, 2016

Being Human in the Age of AI, Robotics & Big Data

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According to a recently published report by Forrester, six percent all US jobs will be replaced by automation over the next five years. Ten years from now, 16% of all jobs will be automated. Described as “a disruptive tidal wave,” the transformation will mostly impact transportation, logistics and customer service sectors. 

The bots are coming.

September 22, 2016

10 Trends That Will Define Our Way of Living for the Next 100 Years

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In the coming century we will accomplish more together as a people than the preceding million years put together, and chart out a new course for the human race. This future that we are imagining for ourselves is so different that it’s completely disconnected from our current way of life. These are the ten mega trends that will be shaping our world, and defining the new social normal. 

Imagination decides everything.

September 20, 2016

The Future of Sex, Dating, and Finding a Mate

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Sex is one of the most powerful, fundamental human drives. It's caused wars…built and destroyed kingdoms. It occupies a significant percentage of most people's thoughts. As such, it's worth a conversation about how exponential technologies will change our relationship with sex.

Oh my tech.

September 12, 2016

Facebook’s Humanless Sifting of Trending News Suggests Some AI Needs Supervision

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is powering marketing tools at various levels, with some products and many predictions emerging that forecast self-managed platforms. But Facebook’s removal last month of human editors from its Trending Topics team, and the resulting errors in judgment by its AI-powered algorithm, raise questions if AI can be left alone without human supervision. In particular, there may be some kinds of content and contexts where human sensibility is still required. 

AI shouldn't be left alone.

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