The time had finally come. From the 21st to the 22nd of June entrepreneurs, decision-makers, scientists and visionaries met in Berlin to discuss the latest trends in the digital travel business. During the Online Innovation Days, arranged by the Verband Internet Reisevertrieb e.V. (VIR), inspiring speeches were presented.

The conference focused on the values and promises of industry specific artificial intelligence (AI) tools. For example, Simon Lehmann, President of Phocuswright, put his attention on “the state of travel start-ups” and Pim van Oerle, Senior Technical Manager at Skyscanner, talked about “the future of travel and user interaction.” Juvigo, an innovative start-up from Berlin that offers international youth trips and uses WhatsApp to communicate with customers, received the “Sprungbrett-Award” and thus a prize worth 35.000 Euro.

bd4travel took the chance to talk with the visitors about best practices in the travel business sector. The aim was to jointly explore the mission critical cornerstones of “real time digital empathy” – how to reacting to individual users personally during the browsing process.

As a give-away, we handed out fidget spinners to the guests and booth visitors. With a smile we recognized that they were being used for hours and hours – experiencing how fascinating these small toys can be also for adults. Some even delivered on our claim on the spinners – “AI with a spin” – and came up with some inspiring new use-cases for AI based personalization.

Our goal was not only to make fingers move but also to activate brain cells. So we also conducted a quiz on the effects of the bd4recommender, our personalized recommendation product.

We wanted to know:

How many percent of the users who stay longer than ten minutes on a holiday travel portal use the personalized hotel recommendations of the bd4recommender?

Discover the right answer

Right answer: 36 %

 

What percent of the users were shown result lists with less than three holidays in the last-minute-season 2016?

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Right answer: 10 %

 

What  percentage of consumers used the bd4recommender in this case?

Discover the right answer

Right answer: 30 %

 

Artificial intelligence is not a trend, it is the future

The answers of most participants are gratifying as they show that holiday industry insiders such as researchers, entrepreneurs, marketing directors, product managers and sales executives  believe that our programs work highly effective.

Looking at the first and third question, which reflect the level of engagement with the bd4recommenders, ¾ of all answers even exceeded the current usage. Considering the huge potential to implement AI based recommendations, they seem to have anticipated the future.

The criticality of empty offer lists with less than three offers was perceived very differently among the participants. ¾ of all answers underestimated the amount clearly – while the rest seemed to have very negative experiences and supposed up to 67% of all users had to cope with empty offer lists.

 

And the winner is…

The first-placed participant, Lukas Siedel, 27-year-old software developer from Dresden, stands out with a total deviation of only 20% percent across all three questions. The winner of a pair of Apple AirPods summarizes: “The bd4recommender is a very useful tool for travel companies and their customers. I tried to put myself in the situations that were mentioned in the questions for getting exact approximations.” The four next best participants will also receive a runners-up prize within the coming days.

Our communication target (to build awareness for the potential of personalized holiday offers) worked out nicely with this approach. Even though most of the participants equate us with high potential and quality, there are still some who underestimate the potential impact of personalization.

Therefore we will increase our efforts to reduce uncertainty regarding our solutions and the performance of these “real time digital empathy” approaches in the holiday industry. And as ever we strive to improve our technology further so that conversation rates can reach a new peak. Our mission has just begun.