As a tour designer who handles direct enquiries from holiday makers from all around the world, I face a huge challenge of beating out OTA’s that sell cheap travel packages without knowing nothing about the destination. This article is about the reasons why human touch of travel cannot be replaced with robots during the era of online systems taking over the most of the commercial activities of the world.
I agree the fact that OTAs are becoming a huge challenge to traditional travel agencies especially among the travel & tourism tech innovations at a higher level and growing faster. But my argument is that, Human Touch of Travel will not be replaced but the value of the position will be enhanced by the tech disruption happening in the industry.
These are some points to prove that human touch of tailor made holiday designs are not going to be erased until artificial intelligence (AI) machines could fully replace humans.
1. Paintings did not replace the camera
There is a famous saying that once the camera is invented, paintings will no longer be valid in art. But did it happened? What really happened was artistic paintings took a different artistic formation where the pictures from a camera cannot be replaced. Value of the paintings was increased while some areas covered by paintings were replaced by the camera. Because of that the value of the human touch has increased in drawings.
2. Human touch of production is replaced but the value of human touch has gone up.
Wherever the human engagement is replaced by technology has increased the value of human touch while adding a premium value to the product. If you need a custom made product, human touch is essential. If you are a person who enjoy the same product which has been produced in factory with thousand of identical products, you might not need the human touch. But if you need something unique and carefully match with your specific requirements, you need the human touch to customize your product. For an example, handmade cars to handmade jewelleries or handmade clothes have a premium value. Likewise tailor-made holiday will become the premium product in travel industry soon.
3. Culture can not be replaced by experience sharing
One of the most interesting change in travel and tourism sector in recent past is travellers are eager to experience the local culture. Experience is not merely visiting a place but living it. This is not a novel concept but the benchmark which change the traditional method from travelling to visit sites to getting a life experience. User generated contents or any ready made packages cannot provide the real experience the person needs unless it is provided from a experienced human being. That is human touch of travel is filling the gap of the industry.
4. Professional knowledge can not be replaced by general knowledge
User generated travel reviews are guiding methods used by online travel agents. There may not be any human touch until the client come to the specific destination. But can we always depend on user generated contents? Then Wikipedia must have replaced all the professions even including medical, engineering or nuclear science. Likewise the thorough professional knowledge about a destination, accommodation or excursions cannot be replaced by reviews; probably they can guide the holiday makers. But when it comes to the decision making, anyone who is eagerly waiting for a holiday might not be willing to risk their plans by depending on unfiltered sets of ideas rather than professional who design tailor-made holidays.
5. Human touch can not be replaced by a robot
Finally, there is a limit for technology. Of course some hard labour work accomplished by human can be replaced by technology. But using the knowledge in any industry will not be able to replace the human in near future. Likewise, traditional holiday package selling will be easily overtaken by OTAs in the near future. Lack of creativity in the industry will make a chaos to the traditional mass sellers who are trying to beat market only by prices. But human touch in the travel and tourism industry will not only be replaced but the value also will grow up in future.