In the 2017 China Travel Innovation Challenge on September 14, the final session of the TravelDaily Conference, contenders presented their answers to tourism innovations and personalized experiences to facilitate the future development of tourism.
Some 40 travel enterprises submitted their works for the 2017 China Travel Innovation Challenge, and five of them were selected by the organizing committee on August 11 for the final presentation. The finalists were Arrivedo, i++ Travel Group, Beijing Babel Technology, QianTech and Zumata.
Arrivedo has devised an online platform providing recommendations of activities and services in hotel. Arrivedo enables hotels to organize their own Neighborhood Guide so that they can compete with AirBnB to attract travelers searching for a hotel with unique local experiences.
Arrivedo’s CEO Alonso Franco mentioned that Arrivedo has connected with 250,000 hotels to help run and manage their Neighborhood Guides. The company aspires to provide "customized Neighborhood Guide for every hotel in the world" and help them attract visitors seeking local experiences.
A total of 250 travel writers have also contributed to the Neighborhood Guides of 500 hotels in 80 cities around the world. "The freelance writers can earn thousands of dollars each month," said Mr. Franco.
Neighborhood Guide to recommend local hotels
HOHO-EU, launched by i++ Travel Group (established after the merger of Woqu and Lulutrip), is a bus tour assistant for travelling in Europe. Jon Jiang, CEO of i++ Travel Group, explained that HOHO-EU means “hop-on and hop-off”.
HOHO-EU focuses on circular bus routes in Europe. “Self-driving tours are not viable in Europe due to the complex traffic conditions. Tour bus can be a good choice for free independent travelers,” explained Mr. Jiang.
HOHO-EU solves the problem of changing between different bus routes, making use of the services provided by transportation providers. Through interactive maps, the functions of automatic connection of bus routes, booking by clicks and changing dates are available to allow passengers to hop on and off buses. In addition, the cost of 73 euros per day includes not only transportation, but also tour guides and accommodation. The touring routes covered by the service encompass most of the attractions in Europe.
The interactive map of HOHO-EU
AIcorrect Translator is a simultaneous interpretation device developed by Beijing Babel Technology. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, introduced AIcorrect Translator as an application of artificial intelligence technology to tackle the language barriers in tourism. With the combination of cloud algorithm and big data, translations can be carried out in real-time.
Instead of a mobile APP, AIcorrect Translator is an independent device. Mr. Guan said: "We’re moving hand in hand with iFLy Tek in AI voice recognition, and we choose to start with the tourism sector because we have observed the key problems for independent outbound tourists.”
With the development of technology and Google working on similar products, how is AIcorrect Translator going to stay competitive? Christopher R. Hemmeter, co-founder and managing director of Thayer Ventures, raised the question.
In response to these concerns, Mr. Guan said that both algorithm and data are equally important in artificial intelligence, and Babel has been working on data accumulation in different market segments and these data will become competitive advantage. Mr. Guan also revealed that AIcorrect Translator will not introduce a mobile App because of the large voice data packets, but will consider the business of leasing devices.
Cross-language communication for different contexts
QianTech focuses on developing AR guide and is a leading innovator in AR guide service for the cultural and creative industry. It offers AR technical services to the Palace Museum, and has provided a number of derived AR products of the cultural and creative industry.
According to Yan Su, CEO of QianTech, they are now mainly focusing on AR navigation services in tourism, exhibition halls, museums, smart cities, cultural and creative business and other fields. The services cover LBS AR navigation, AR scanning navigation, indoor and outdoor AR navigation, and derived AR products of the cultural and creative industry, as well as supporting algorithms and hardware.
"Location-based AR algorithm is the technical advantage of QianTech. With a comprehensive AR navigation model pioneered and implemented in China, integrated with display on mobile devices and the accumulation of data, we’re now enjoying a competitive edge in technology," Miss. Su said.
AR attraction solutions of QianTech
Zumata is a tech company that leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to provide travel companies with a set of tools that maximizes sales from hotel bookings and enables practical applications within the travel industry.
Joshua Michael Ziegler, CEO of Zumata, said that the company has been focusing on connecting travel distributors and hotel suppliers worldwide for the past four years, and will help travel distributors earn more profits with existing inventory in the future.
To do that, Zumata has to increase revenue and reduce costs by providing artificial intelligence solutions.
Visual assistance, among other services, is available at Zumata. For instance, presentation of quality images of hotels, which are labelled and sequenced, help hotels increase revenue by 40%.
Personalized recommendations are also available thanks to natural language understanding. It can help match consumer demands, reviews and unstructured or structured texts, such as preference for breakfast or for pet-friendly hotels. Such feature has helped hotels increase revenues by 50% or higher.
Mr. Ziegler also emphasized that high-quality images and personalized recommendations can save time, optimize conversion rates, and ultimately save labor costs and increase profits.
Visual Assistant Services of Zumata
For the 2017 China Travel Innovation Challenge, AIcorrect Translator took the crown by winning both "Innovation Enterprise Award" and "People’s Choice", and Arrivedo was the runner up as ranked by the panel of judges.