Algorithms and the future of global tourism


Specialists at the Forum Turis TIC, which was recently held in Barcelona, claim that within five years complex algorithms and AI would decide travel and holiday entertainment trends.

The technology that will decide the primary tourism trends in the coming five years already has a name: Machine Learning. This powerful algorithm will decisively influence where we travel, when, why, and how.

It was widely spoken about during the meeting, and in general, all agreed that it’s set to be a key tool within the tourism sector. Its use on a massive scale will allow us to predict trends in the market and permit destination cities to plan policies and public resources through a detailed, almost real-time analysis of the data from possible surges in visitors based on the study of social networks.

The presentation from Raúl Gómez, a researcher at the Multimedia Technologies Unit of the Eurecat Technology Centre, about an algorithm applied to Instagram on the first day at the recent Fórum Turis TIC provided some clues about the future trend. The algorithm learns and shows the relationship between words, hashtags and the images tourists’ post while on holidays. This information and computational power will allow us to know what visitors considered the highlights of the city they visited or plan to visit.

Gómez explained that by developing this Eurecat algorithm, it can relate images to semantic concepts from the information available on social networks and that in the near future, and this will allow us to predict trends in the tourism sector before they materialise.

In fact, these specialists in information flows stated that it will also be possible to predict if a neighbourhood, bar, or restaurant will become trendy before it actually happens by analysing specific databases. This is incredibly valuable information for the tourism sector and public managers.

This technology also creates important questions for actors in the tourism industry as the border between trends, regarding “organic” social networks become more blurred with the publication or control information about future “trendy” spots. Information will have huge economic value if it’s controlled and distributed at different peak times of the tourism season. What will be more real, the expected trend or the trend created by posting the prediction of the trend? Whether you are a consumer or a tour operator, this is not Minority Report or Black Mirror, but something we’re going to face on a daily basis in the very near future.





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