How attractions can use AI to boost local tourism
By Don White
With travel restrictions in place and many people hesitant to travel by plane, the new summer vacation standard this year is being a tourist in your own city. And with the reopening of museums and outdoor attractions across the country comes a variety of new visitor questions around safety, changes in procedures and what activities are open again.
To help prepare for local trips, tourists are leaning on technology to stay safe and plan for vacations just down the road from home. According to Tripadvisor, 45% of visitors use their smartphones for everything to do with vacations, including guidance on restaurants, attractions, transportation and more.
For local tourists, new mobile device functionalities and innovations in AI-powered customer service technology are the key to understanding policies and procedures that enforce safety and social distancing, and help visitors better adapt to fit this new environment.
Here, we explore three areas of the local tourism experience that will be impacted by technology optimised for the COVID-19 world.
Whether it be about the mask policy or hours of operation, tourists are becoming more curious and preparing for changes to their normal behaviour on trips by asking questions ahead of time.
Visitor safety being a top priority, tourist attractions are now communicating with patrons regularly about reopening processes, new entrance and exit procedures to enforce social distancing, limited hours of operation and capacity regulations.
With reopening phases varying from state to state and sometimes changing by the day, it’s essential for local travellers to also know if their desired destinations have pushed back reopening days or rescheduled events.
More than ever, visitors will expect businesses to have increased communications about these operational shifts - we’re seeing this facilitated through social media, direct email marketing, SMS alerts, push notifications, AI-powered virtual assistants and more.
Businesses have to tailor their approach to fit the needs and demands of their target audience, demonstrating increased importance for them to know their audience and customer base incredibly well.
Data collection can be beneficial for businesses to gain a deeper knowledge of their customer base and potential audiences, which can then inform personalised offerings, deliver important tailored news and ensure a smooth and seamless experience customised to specific needs, both preference-wise and safety-related.
For example, a local tourist at an amusement park or outdoor mall may be in the mood for a certain food or beverage item available at a few different vendors in the area. Based on data collection and crowd mapping, app and web-based technology paired with conversational commerce can locate which nearby vendor to suggest that will satisfy their craving for that particular item, manage crowd flow so too many people aren’t picking up from the same vendor at the same time and limit the number of other guests the visitor has to come into contact with on their way to pick it up - promoting convenience, safety and social distancing.
Machine learning is also playing a critical role in personalisation by combining insights learned from visitors’ previous searches and location tracking to display information tailored to their interests. When people buy a ticket for an attraction such as an aquarium, zoo or museum, pertinent information can be directed to these consumers to notify them of features like different exhibits available at the museum or new animals coming to the zoo, enhancing customer experience and fostering brand affinity for guests to become repeat visitors at their local attractions.
Hybrid tourism model
With local tourism attractions looking to minimise contact and leverage technology for social distancing, the digital space is tapping augmented reality as well as virtual reality to simulate visiting different places and standing next to famous landmarks.
For example, innovations in virtual reality technology can bring famous tourist attractions to local visitors worldwide, so even though travellers can’t fly across the country or the world to see them in person, would-be tourists can still see their desired destinations virtually. The staycation may not be as exciting as hopping on a plane to a tropical island, but it is giving locals a greater appreciation for their community and the ways technology is helping keep its members safe.
Industries are looking to others that are able to reopen before them to see how they meet their customers’ needs, so it’s important to pay attention to how the travel and tourism industries’ reopening solutions pave the way for other major industries like sporting events and concerts.
About the author
Don White is co-founder and CEO of Satisfi Labs