Visitor Servicing and Ai

Artificial intelligence, or Ai, has the potential to revolutionize regional tourism visitor servicing in various ways. Here are some applications, challenges, benefits, and risks associated with the integration of Ai in Australian regional visitor servicing.

AI is already changing the way we travel.

Ai is not something coming… it’s already here. If you think it’s not for you or find yourself thinking, ‘leave it to the kids’, well think again. Ai is the technology behind Google Maps, Netflix, powering any algorithm that makes our lives easier to navigate, shopping more efficient and traffic jams avoidable.  You are already engaging with it.

At the corporate level, airlines such as Lufthansa are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to geolocate lost baggage and reunite owners with errant baggage without having to queue unnecessarily in baggage collection points. Air New Zealand have experimented with real time translation through Google Pixel Buds that enable crew members live translation of 40 languages via the Pixel smartphone.

Ai has come into our vernacular thanks largely to the popularity of Chat GPT, another application or tool, making lives easier for many professionals and students no longer having to slog through resources manually.  It also has brilliant application in visitor servicing and for planning tailored holiday itineraries in seconds.

Ai has loads of useful applications in a visitor servicing environment, whether you are bricks and mortar Visitor Information Centre (VIC), or a National Park based VIC, the entry desk at a large shopping centre, museum or art gallery, the possibilities are enormous.  For instance:

Chatbots and Virtual Assistants (VA)

Most often installed on websites, and in touchscreens in kiosks in a busy  ‘bricks and mortar’ VIC Ai tools like chatbots and VAs can step in, once trained by humans, and offer:

  • efficient answers to repetitive questions, freeing up staff
  • instant responses to visitor queries
  • recommendations that are tailored  
  • assistance with bookings
  • multilingual support – hello migrants and international travellers!
  • a 24/7 service when visitors need help, not just when the doors open
  • improved visitor satisfaction and
  • drive more bookings.

Challenges include – Ai is as good as the data it’s learning from, and you’ll need to spend time training up your Bot. Ai is still limited at dealing with complex enquiries but FAQs should be easy enough. With an aging population and many volunteers at VICs are in this demographic, staff will also need upskilling their own Ai literacy first, to help visitors use Bots and VAs.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

AR and VR technologies can enhance the visitor experience by providing virtual tours, interactive maps, and immersive cultural experiences. In Port Pirie VIC the integration of VR technology has brought Shakka the Shark to life for visitors elevating a still exhibit into a terrifying interactive experience with sound, of swimming with a white pointer. Trip Advisor reviews are 5 star and it only costs $10.  One of the challenges is you need specialised technology, and it’s not for everyone’s ability.

Personalized Recommendations

Who doesn’t want tailoring? The best vegetarian restaurant or gin bar? Family friendly cafes? Playgrounds within 10 kms of our hotel? AI systems can be trained to analyze visitor preferences, travel history, and real-time location data to offer personalized recommendations for activities, dining options, and sightseeing.

Real-time Updates

If you’ve travelled in storms, bushfire season or driven through endless roadwork on major highways, real time updates are a life saver. It means the agencies involved with the incidents need to update information for Ai to train its responses, but it is possible, even without a reliable internet connection. Ai can provide real-time updates on weather conditions, traffic, and special events happening in the area, helping visitors plan their activities accordingly.

The future is already here! 


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