Robots vs. Humans – What will the future of travel agents look like?

An entire hotel run by robots in Japan. A robotic suitcase following its owner around autonomously. Robots taking over services at airports or travel agencies. The impact of robots is already ubiquitous in the travel industry. 

But is there really a chance that in such a service-oriented business, robots will take over ? Will humanoid robots really become so powerful that they constitute the future of travel agents? This might not be unrealistic at all.

Let´ s talk Robotics

When talking about robots, all of us have a picture of a human-like machine such as Star Wars R2-D2 in mind, capable of carrying out human tasks and talking just as we humans do. But when talking about humanoid robots and robot-related technology, there is so much more about it than just human-like androids. Modern robot-related technologies can be ranging from speech recognition (read our blog post about the impact of speech recognition here) to artificial intelligence (AI). Did you know that, for example, Segways would not exist without robotics (read more about technologies that wouldn´ t exist here) ? It is a fact that robots have made their way into our everyday life. And most of the time we are not even aware of it.

Changing consumer behaviour in travel asks for new technologies

Looking specifically at the travel industry it is probably AI that brings the most useful technologies and tools. Compared to other industries, the travel sector bears one of the greatest potential to experience a valuable impact through AI (McKinsey, 2018). Services and offers that have pleased consumers in the past are quickly outdated and replaced. Newer, faster and more efficient technologies take over. The consumer travel trends are moving towards an instant assistance, smooth-multi-source handling and individualized services (newgenapps, 2018). Travel companies that still rely on old technology are at risk to lose their clients

Examples of existing Robots in the travel industry

The travel industry has already been adopting humanoid robots. This has happened to different degrees and with different success. Here is a list of the most known examples of humanoid robots changing more than just the future of travel agents:

1.) Henn-na Hotel: Humanoid robots taking over the hotel business

The Henn-na Hotel (translates as “Strange Hotel”) in Nagasaki is the very first fully robot-staffed hotel in the world. It opened up in 2015 and its hotel business is almost entirely run by robots. From a cloak robot, to check-in robots, porter robots to concierge robots. This hotel incorporates all future robots representing the travel future.


2.) Airport guide and airport cleaning robots: Making air travel easier

We all know the trouble of getting to the correct gate at all these huge airports around the world. In case you find yourself in this situation again anytime soon, there is a slight chance that a humanoid robot, designed by LG, will assist you in getting to the right gate at the right time. 


3.) Microsoft Power BI: Fusing Artificial Intelligence and Data Visualization

Data mining is an extremely powerful tool, there is no denying it. Unfortunately, unless being a data analyst, it can be challenging to find patterns, and even harder to make sense of them. With the new AI features that Microsoft announced last November (Microsoft, 2018), everyone in a particular organization using this tool will be empowered to make decisions based on data insights. Azure Cognitive Services, the Key Driver Analysis feature, the possibility of importing your own machine learning model, and the integration of Azure Machine Learning will help travel agents automate data analysis and elevate its potential to make it easier and more accessible for travel businesses to take a step forward. Power BI is changing the future of travel agents by expanding their capabilities and applying automated humanoid reasoning to data analysis.

The probability of Robots determining the future of travel agents

We can see that there are a lot of things happening in the travel industry. Trends come and go, and technology plays a growing importance in all of these trends. It is also one of the best ways to go regarding the general technological development. But don’t worry, robots are not taking over the world (yet). While they may be able to combine, learn, multi-task and solve problems more efficiently than humans do, there is still the need for imagination and social interaction. Robots – as humanoid as they may look – are far from being able to act as social and personal as humans do. And in a service-oriented business such as the travel industry, this is what makes the real difference to the customer!