Ai Editorial: Understanding a traveller’s emotion – what to expect in 2019?

First Published on 24th December, 2018

Ai Editorial: Capturing emotions-related data resulting from face-to-face human interactions has still some way to go. This means that the profile of a traveller, even as airlines move towards analytics-driven personalization, won’t be complete, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


How a traveller feels about a brand, post shopping for a trip and the actual travel journey? Travel e-commerce players strengthened several initiatives in 2018 to excel in this arena – running an enterprise-wide data platform, garnering data in real time or at regular intervals, counting on data science skills and data visualization tools etc.

But is all of this enough to know how a traveller felt after a particular interaction or experience?

The industry is far from it at this juncture.

On the positive side, ongoing focus on sentiment analysis or evaluating the scope of smart sensors (that allow users to track data such as heart rate, skin temperature, and activity levels on connected devices) were important developments. As we highlighted in one of our articles earlier this year, the blend of artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and emotional data could well lend a new dimension to ascertaining how a traveller “feels” and accordingly delivering the best possible customer service or an ad or a digital experience.

Some areas such as progress in technology is opening new avenues. Facial coding or voice analytics are expected to help in understanding how travellers feel or what their intent is. But looking at in a pragmatic way a massive gap in the whole exercise can be attributed to lack of all of the data.

Lack of data

Even as travel companies can gain consent from users on their digital asset and avail bio-analytics technology (e. g. understanding an emotion as one is browsing travel packages on a website via heart rate variability), a major hurdle that is seemingly slowing down is the lack of emotional data from the offline world.

It can be described as the next frontier. Technology is constantly improving, but companies aren’t yet clear with data privacy-related issues. For example, in case of airlines, the day of travel or the airport experience is where the consumption of the product commences in a tangible manner. There is interaction with the staff at the airport. This is where a passenger shares certain experiences or even the expectations of the journey. Now can this be captured? Yes. The technology is in place. There is an opportunity to avail a voice recognition tool to analyze and record a spoken conversation. This can be useful for airlines considering the typical fast-paced environment (marked by limited time period for each passenger) of an airport.

A senior airline marketing executive shared that their organization is “quite far from” capturing emotional-data emanating from an offline environment. “We don’t capture conversations at the airport. Being clear with customers about what data is being collected is important,” the executive said.

Clearly till the time global brands are sure about new data-related regulations, be it for GDPR in Europe or China Cyber Security Law, they can’t get closer to capturing all the interactions and analyze the same. It isn’t as easy as seeking permission for sending email or acceptance of cookies on a website.

Capturing emotions-related data resulting from face-to-face human interactions has still some way to go. This means that the profile of a traveller, even as airlines move towards analytics-driven personalization, won’t be complete. It would be worth knowing how travel brands crack this, considering that an organization has to make the most of every interaction – be it via a digital or offline touchpoint – to serve their customer in an earnest manner.


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