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Is AI in the travel industry becoming a marketing necessity?

Travel companies have been through the wringer more than most lately. After being practically flattened by Covid, the industry has needed to pivot to entirely new business models to make up for declines in other parts of the operation. Consider the example of airlines focusing on cargo business during the passenger slowdown, or hotels boosting sales of food during the pandemic.


Image credit: CBC

Of course, a pivot in sales strategy also means a pivot in messaging. Customer engagement plays a huge part in the ability of travel businesses to quickly adapt their business models and ways of working to unexpected shifts in demand. After all – how can you pull off a left turn if your customers aren’t along for the ride? It’s in this context that digital technologies for fast, agile messaging – such as AI and automation – have become a travel marketing priority.


AI is now the travel marketer’s top priority

According to the 2021 Digital Transformation Report by Skift and Amazon Web Services, the travel industry is going gung-ho with its digitalization efforts. The percentage of respondents who “were behind” on their digital transformation efforts has halved in the past year as more travel and hospitality companies recognize the opportunity to accelerate away from the pack.


Image credit: Shueisha

But within this statistic is a new revelation: that marketers are the ones driving the AI boom in the travel industry. According to the same Skift and AWS study, “improving marketing and advertising” is the top priority for travel companies undergoing digitalization and AI adoption, with 39% putting it ahead of all other concerns.

This is becoming a strategic necessity for travel marketers. As travel agency Wotif’s Vicci Ormandy told Phrasee in her recent Ask The Expert interview: “the burning issue for travel marketers right now is keeping up with customers’ expectations for relevant messages and engaging content, in a world that is flooded with content.” In this content-flooded space in which travel companies are vying for engagement, AI-powered marketers are the ones grabbing the attention.


How P&O Cruises is making waves with AI

Take P&O Cruises for example. The company had a feeling that its brand language was working – but it was only a feeling, given that it was based on human instinct.

It felt that AI-generated brand language could make its communications more diverse and boundary-pushing, raising the company’s engagement to its full potential at a time when fast, agile and effective communication is so essential.

With the help of AI-powered Brand Language Optimization, P&O Cruises has been able to craft content grounded in data rather than gut feel and move ever closer to fully understanding its customers and the language they respond to. The company is constantly testing fresh tones, styles, words and phrases against its audience, and the proof is in the pudding: promotional campaigns with a 13% open rate uplift and a 18% click increase.


Image credit: Fox

In the race for engagement in the travel industry, P&O Cruises is leading the way – proving why so many others in the sector are now prioritising AI adoption.

For the full story, download the case study here.

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