TIAC Congress explores how AI is changing tourism

Comparing today’s AI environment to the state of social media 20 years ago, Greg Oates, SVP, Innovation, MMGY NextFactor, treated delegates attending the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s (TIAC) 2023 Tourism Congress in Ottawa to a whirlwind tour of the rapidly evolving AI environment and how it will fundamentally change the business of tourism.

AI is not a tech issue, Oates told his audience. It is a change management issue.

“People are thinking: AI is cool and fun, but what can I do with it?” Oates said.  His answer to that question was that AI is about accelerating the creativity and innovation that drives organizational transformation.

Tourism destinations and brands will use AI to brainstorm, create strategic plans, build and sell customized experiences based on customer interactions and access a wide range of data to identify new market and investment opportunities. Consumers will use AI to quickly create a made-to-order travel experience.

Existing OTAs like Expedia and Trip Advisor are already adopting AI. New players are entering the field with innovative approaches.

For example, Guidegeek a ‘free, personal AI travel assistant,’ is offering customized travel recommendations based on customers’ enquiries and preferences. But it doesn’t stop there. Guidegeek also offers DMOs and travel brands a turn-key ready software platform that allows destinations to have one-to-one conversations with travellers exploring their travel options, and then follow up with links to websites, partners and stakeholders.

With new players and capabilities coming online virtually every day, Oates urged TIAC congress delegates to use AI to its fullest: experiment, explore the tools, think big picture and tackle complex challenges.

Story by Debra Ward

Photo by Greg Ohman