If you’re like me, making travel plans can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. But, what if you had everything you would need to know about your vacation in the palm of your hand and available in real time? Thanks to cognitive technologies, there are now apps to help you have the best travel experience ever.

Here are three companies disrupting the tourism business by creating mobile applications that are powered by IBM Watson. Take a look at how they are using this technology to rock your next vacation.

ZUMATA

Companies like ZUMATA, a travel technology company, are the latest to jump on the growing need for new ways of performing travel searches.

ZUMATA integrates IBM Watson cognitive services to improve the online hotel booking experience for you and travel services companies like Expedia or Amadeus.

ZUMATA, a Singapore-based company, uses data and images aggregated from more than 60 global hotel providers, and an ever-expanding database of structured and unstructured data, which includes descriptions of 500,000 properties, hotel photos, and social media reviews and ratings. The platform goes beyond the usual search results driven by destination and date. By tapping into Watson, the platform enables travelers to ask questions in natural language and receive recommendations based on publicly available information, from social media reviews to written and visual content provided by hotel operators. The results personalize your preferences, giving you just what you need when you need it.

Not only that but during your travels, you can also seek support from ZUMATA’s intelligent agent. You can ask questions about, or make changes to, your bookings in natural language, and the agent can answer and take action on your requests from any device, in real time. It’s like having a personal concierge.

“Consumers are looking for inspiration, relevance, and convenience because travel planning is overwhelming and time-consuming,” said Gary Theis, CTO of ZUMATA. “As a travel technology company, we now have the cognitive expertise to match consumers with their perfect trip. Our partnership with IBM Watson will make travel personal again.”

ZUMATA uses a combination of Watson APIs, including Watson Conversation, Retrieve and Rank, AlchemyLanguage, and Visual Recognition, to deliver a sophisticated and relevant trip discovery experience.

For example, you might type or say “I need a luxury hotel in Sydney, with a view of the opera house, an indoor pool, and free WiFi.” Results returned will display images of the hotel view, amenities, and reviews about the hotel from other travelers’ online reviews. The best part is the system learns with each interaction and becomes more customized to your preferences over time.

Wayblazer

Like ZUMATA, Wayblazer also taps into Watson’s functionality to help you have a more personalized vacation experience.

Visit Orlando” is a destination-based mobile app developed by Wayblazer that uses artificial intelligence technology from IBM to understand conversational language. It pulls in declared (facts shared when a user signs up), observed (information from a linked social media profile), and inferred (evidence from previous searches) data from users.

The app then offers personalized recommendations tailored to users’ specific needs and preferences. For example, if you ask Watson to search for:

  • Where can I eat that has live music?
  • Which hotel has a spa?
  • Where can I find a scenic view in Orlando?

You get back just the top results, instead of hundreds.

The “Visit Orlando” app also has other great features:

  • Augmented Reality “Around Me” Capabilities – Easily locate and learn about relevant dining and entertainment experiences in your immediate vicinity as the app adds an overlay of augmented reality information to your phone camera’s view.
  • Augmented Reality “Magical Orb” Game – Unlock Orlando deals by hunting and capturing Magical Orbs that appear throughout the destination via augmented reality on your phone camera. Collect all of the orbs to be entered to win prizes.
  • Interactive “Selfie Scavenger Hunt” – Earn savings for taking selfies throughout the destination such as Orlando-themed photo filters, discounts, and a unique virtual souvenir to remember your trip: a 3-D “photo cube” of all your selfies.
  • One-Touch Destination Specialist Service – For an even more personalized experience, you can instantly connect to a helpful (and human) Orlando Destination Specialist with just one touch.
  • Ability to Purchase Attraction Tickets

Red Skios

Red Skios collaborated with the Center for Arts, Culture, and Tourism (CACT) of Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, to create an app that helps travelers have a more immersive experience on their visit.

Skios implemented their Watson-powered “tripbru” solution for the CACT which is a mobile, interactive guide for visitors. The app can cognitively answer visitor’s questions, deliver multimedia content based on their location and cognitive visitor profile, deliver tours through the attraction, and more. The mobile app becomes your personal guide, in your language, that adapts to your tastes via a personal profile.

For instance, if you’re a biologist traveling in Lanzarote, the app will highlight that Jameos del Agua Lake is the only place on Earth where you can find unique species of crabs. Because it’s based on IBM Watson cognitive technologies, it learns from your experience — the more the app is used, the more Watson will cater the recommendations to your preferences. If the application manager detects that you and your friends love music, it can send out an alert announcing a concert that same evening. Now that’s personalization!

The app is also transforming customer care on the island and strengthening its reputation as a top holiday destination. Designed as a source of information for both visitors and agents, the app is trained to diagnose and resolve common questions in near real-time so that agents can focus on more complex issues.

“With a cognitive-driven customer care app, we’re creating a world-class visitor experience for the island.” — Jose Juan Lorenzo, chief executive officer CACT.

Even though computers can search millions of options, helping refine that to a good hotel or special meal it is now possible as machines use AI to “learn” how to deliver more nuanced results, helping you have a more immersive, interactive, and informative travel experience.

How do you think these types of applications will help enhance your travel experience?

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Maureen Baeck
Maureen Baeck, AKA The Travel Blonde, has a passion for travel. Ever since she was a small child she has been on-the-go traveling across the United States and internationally. Maureen lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, two Standard Poodles and a Sheltie.

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