The Future of Travel: Are AI & Autonomous Robots Here to Stay?

Published On: January 31st, 20224 min read

Artificial intelligence and related concepts like autonomous robots are experiencing significant progress in recent years. Bots can perform tasks today that would have been unthinkable as recently as five years ago. Imagine what the next five years may have in store.

It would be a mistake to think that this subset of technology is limited only to the factory floor and other manufacturing environments. AI and autonomous robots are making a big impact on the travel industry in particular in a host of unique ways that are more than worthy of exploring.

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The Future of Travel Has Arrived

To get a better understanding of just how artificial intelligence and autonomous robots can potentially impact the future of travel, it’s important to acknowledge what those terms truly mean in this context.

Here, a “robot” is a machine that has been built to automatically perform tasks that would normally require human intervention. This frees up the time of human employees to focus on more important matters.

Artificial intelligence relates to the same basic concept, but it occurs on a systems level. A computer program can be “trained” to accurately and predictably perform a task that typically would have depended on an actual employee. More than that, AI systems get “better” at their jobs as more data is fed into them – meaning that they only get more and more efficient as time goes on.

Within the context of the larger travel and hospitality industries, the implications here are significant.

Imagine a situation where you check into a hotel and are greeted, not by a person  but by a robot. Autonomous robots are staffed at the front desk, and when combined with things like facial recognition and the aforementioned AI, they can help you check-in, get your bags, and more – all in a highly effective way. Or, imagine an airport where robotic assistants help travelers field basic questions and manage their itinerary, all in their native language.

You don’t have to merely imagine such a scenario; it’s already happening. In 2015, for example, The Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki Japan became known as the first robot-staffed hotel in the world. This initiative was not without its issues, though.

In 2019, the hotel chose to cut their robot staff in half due to issues with efficiency. According to Hotel Management, “a large percentage of the robots were more adept at creating work for their human counterparts than they were at reducing it.”

This illustrates a critical concern: is AI in the travel industry meant to replace human employees?

The Implications of Autonomous Robots in the Travel Industry

At DMI, we believe artificial intelligence and autonomous robots aren’t designed to replace human employees at all. Rather, AI should be used to support and empower them.

“Technology is built for humans, and not the other way around,” says Mike Deittrick, President of the AI & Analytics Group and Chief Marketing Officer at DMI. “Most of what we do still requires humans to make judgement calls, and AI isn’t built to do that. AI is meant to enhance your processes, not replace your people. It minimizes human error and increases efficiency.”

Yes, an actual person can field a question about where your connecting flight is at an airport or what time you have to be at the gate before departure. But imagine what else that employee could achieve if they weren’t saddled with simple questions all day.

Technological systems can accurately perform repetitive, administrative tasks so that humans have more hours in the day to focus on matters that only further improve the customer experience. That’s why AI and autonomous robots are here to stay, and will become more important and more prominent over the next decade.

Final Thoughts

At DMI, we pride ourselves on our ability to help guide organizations through their digital transformation processes, regardless of how unique they happen to be.

Technology is nothing, if not malleable, which means that there is no “one size fits all” approach to a successful execution. Only by considering your current and future goals will you be able to work your way back to the proper strategy, which is ultimately what digital transformation is all about.

Further, leveraging the expertise of a partner can help you realize your digital transformation goals faster and move forward with confidence. DMI has helped some of the largest airports in the world create frictionless, fully-integrated travel experiences as well as optimize operations.

To find out more information about AI and autonomous robots within the context of the future of travel, contact DMI today. You can also click here to download our eBook that showcases these and other top technology trends to pay attention to in 2022 and beyond.  New call-to-action