In a presentation during the 2nd edition of ET Travel & Tourism Conclave & Awards, Amadeus Lab’s Associate Vice President, Global Technology & Cloud, Ranaj Biswas elaborated how technology and sustainability are redefining the very essence of travel in 2024 and adding value to the rapidly evolving landscape of the travel industry.
Biswas highlighted the remarkable strides made in the industry since the post-Covid resurgence. He stressed the dominance of artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine learning (ML) as a driving force behind the transformative changes.
“Examples like Walt Disney’s heavy investments in virtual experiences and Qatar Airways‘ metaverse offerings, allowing users to virtually experience airports, showcase the tangible impact of AI,” he shared.
Transitioning to the role of Amadeus, which is the key travel technology solutions provider, he continued talking about the company’s strategic collaborations, notably with Microsoft, showcasing how these partnerships have revolutionised content and shopping searches within the travel industry. He emphasised that AI and ML aren’t just concepts but are actively addressing crucial challenges.
“In the past December, a significant incident regarding air crew scheduling occurred within a major airline. We’ve heavily integrated AI and ML to guarantee that no flight takes off without a properly staffed crew—a reality in practice, not just a concept on slides. Our operational systems are already equipped to forecast specific flight patterns. For instance, using AI and ML algorithms, we can predict how bookings will unfold for a journey from point A to point B. These advancements are being integrated across our product suite, whether in revenue management or any facet of the airline industry, where managing revenue is a complex task. But incorporating AI into this process provides a service that can significantly transform operations,” explained Biswas, speaking during the session on travel technology redefining the ease of business. Biometrics, he said, has also helped Amadeus pioneer the efficient payment systems since 2015, leading implementations across global airports. “While methods like Google Pay were once unfamiliar, today, facial recognition facilitates payments. This technology isn’t novel for us; we’ve been implementing these solutions since 2015, starting with New Zealand, expanding to the USA, and most recently, achieving a full biometric solution in Japan’s Narita Airport in 2021,” he detailed, adding that this significantly streamlines airport operations, case in point the Changi airport, where the use of biometric interfaces translates to considerable time savings and enhanced efficiency.
Besides enhancement of customer experiences, the core of Amadeus’ mission is to maintain sustainability throughout its operations. “Sustainability stands as a cornerstone of our ethos. Our investments in cutting-edge entities reflect our dedication to greener practices,”Biswas affirmed.
Addressing the imperative shift towards sustainability in the travel industry, Amadeus positioned itself as a contributor through technological interventions as well as collaborations. “One organisation, based in the United States, we invested in, is pioneering the development of intelligent AI and ML algorithms specifically tailored to optimise flight bookings and capacity management. This innovation addresses overbooking scenarios by offering viable alternatives or the provision of free tickets for passengers relinquishing their overbooked seats. Not only does this approach save countless flights but it also empowers customers by adjusting carbon footprints,” he added.
The other entity that Amadeus has invested in, CAPHENIA, from Germany, has devised a groundbreaking method to produce Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) more affordably and on a scalable level. “Our investment in this venture aligns with our broader commitment to champion sustainable travel practices. This arena presents a tremendous opportunity to enhance the efficiency of aviation fuels, a critical focus area within the travel industry’s sustainability initiatives. However, this domain is still evolving, navigating regulatory frameworks and conducting rigorous use case testing before reaching full fruition.”
“Despite these early stages, the outlook is exceptionally positive, reinforcing our belief in its potential to drive meaningful change,” said Biswas, adding that Amadeus lays out a three-pronged approach—people, places, and the planet—vowing aggressive targets for carbon neutrality by 2024-25.
Shifting focus to predicted trends in 2024, Amadeus anticipates the rise of music tourism, which will amplify family travel experiences as well as the influence wielded by social media influencers on travel plans. Electric skyways, although not currently available in Indian cities, are a tangible reality elsewhere, shared Biswas, adding that organisations in Europe are already facilitating swift travel across various locations in minimal time.
Additionally, the concept of a ‘lux-lite’ business class, offering a business class experience at a slightly lower cost than traditional business class fares, is swiftly becoming a reality, shared Biswas, hinting that airlines like Emirates and Qatar are already pioneering these options on specific routes.
Also, the utilisation of chatbots for ticket bookings is gaining traction, especially with advancements in tools like Chat GPT, offering potential for easier and more comfortable interactions. “Regarding generative AI and machine learning, we anticipate a significant surge in these technologies for 2024 and beyond,” he said.
However, going forward with the cautious use of these tools, it’s crucial to navigate challenges in security, guidelines, and governance, especially considering its application not only in the travel industry but across various sectors, he added. “This area will likely demand increased attention and development in the coming years, shaping the trajectory for the industries,” he concluded.
Biswas was representing Amadeus at the 2nd edition of the Economic Times Travel & Tourism Conclave and Awards. Amadeus also co-sponsored the event organised on November 30, 2023 at the Eros Hotel New Delhi Nehru Place and attended by over 250 delegates.