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AI-Powered Tourism: Your Path to a Thriving Career

January 23rd, 2024

by Metolo Foyet

The Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management (THEM) industry is a dynamic and multifaceted sector focused on providing memorable experiences to travellers and event attendees. With a major contribution to global economies, driven by the diverse needs and preferences of customers for leisure, business, and special events, THEM encompasses various businesses, including hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, event planning companies, and more.

When considering the impact of AI on the job industry, five prevailing beliefs emerge:

The sceptics, influenced by humorous robot and AI failure compilations on platforms like YouTube, view AI as mere fiction.

The cautious, who foresee AI replacing certain jobs, and are busy proactively upskilling or reskilling, a sentiment echoed in the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report.

The believers, exemplified by the global youth, emphasizing that AI will generate new employment opportunities.

The contenders, contesting that AI remains reliant on human ingenuity, as it cannot perform tasks necessitating creativity, conceptualization, intricate strategic planning, novel issue resolution, or soft skills such as empathy and compassion. Remarkably, advanced generative pre-trained transformers and robots like Sophia and her siblings are challenging this notion.

Lastly, the harborers of the gloomy view that AI will terminate humanity.

Besides these convictions, it’s a reality that automation has emerged as the primary driver of digital transformation unfolding across various sectors. According to Frey and Osborne’s probability of computerization, the service industries will face the most severe levels of automation.

THEM, like other sectors, is moving towards greater automation. Consistent with its history of early technology adoption, THEM has seen AI technologies leveraged to enhance various business aspects, from customer service and marketing to operations and guest experiences.

In 2015, THEM suppliers integrated intelligent machinery. KLM unveiled Spencer, a passenger-guide robot at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, while Japan’s Henn na Hotel, the first robot hotel, opened at Huis Ten Bosch amusement park. Three years later, KLM introduced Care-E, a self-driving luggage trolley for flight passengers. Despite some guest complaints leading to the dismissal of robot front desk staff, Henn na Hotel expanded globally, employing various robots (and dinosaurs) for tasks such as receptioning, cloakrooms, portering and in-room assistance, among others.

Intelligent automation in THEM has pros and cons for tourists and destinations. Service providers benefit from increased productivity, cost savings, streamlined decision-making, better tourist support, efficient operations, flexible workplaces with collaboration between employees and smart systems, heightened safety, and increased job satisfaction, ultimately enhancing employee well-being. If the highest rate of job replacement by AI is likely to be in service delivery, in the tourism sector, this transcribes into:

  • <1% (no risk) teachers and instructors. This is backed by the 2023 future of job report which has teaching covering 30% of the top 10 largest growth jobs. 
  • <10% (low risk): lodging managers, human resources managers, sales and marketing managers, first-line supervisors, food service managers, and chef and head cooks.
  • 20% – 80% (medium risk): concierges, customer service representatives, housekeeping cleaners, and laundry and dry-cleaning workers (ranked from low to high)
  • >80% (High risk): line cook, food server, counter attendant, and hostess.

Industry 5.0 (including THEM) will highly rely on employee-AI interaction. This will require managers skilled in the (a) efficient utilization of AI agents, (b) management of man-machine Hybrid Teams. Policy makers will require proficiency in computational public policy, regulatory AI application and development, balance between human and nonhuman employees, and ensuring AI benefits all. Entry-level employees will be required competency in collaborating with AI colleagues. The new skillset will thus likely be:

To pursue a career in AI within THEM, it’s essential to develop a strong understanding of AI tech, data analysis, and industry trends. Consider acquiring relevant certifications, gaining practical experience through projects, and networking within the industry. Additionally, keep up with AI advancements and ethics for excellence.

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About the author

Metolo Foyet

Human geographer and computational social scientist by training, Metolo’s interest spans across tropical landscapes restoration, the wildlife economy, human rights and grassroots movements, public policy and the role of arts and tech in shaping dynamics within these fields.

Prior to specializing in conservation science, she spent over a decade adding value to organisations by delivering innovative projects that engage stakeholders and expertise in education, agriculture, public affairs, communications, translation, and cyber security.

When she is not in rural areas contributing to community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), she paints, writes, engages in sports or globe/cyber trotting to show and see the world as others do.

Metolo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations, a Master’s degree in Conflict, Peace, and Security, and she is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Florida.

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by Metolo Foyet

The Tourism, Hospitality, and Event Management (THEM) industry is a dynamic and multifaceted sector focused on providing memorable experiences to travellers and event attendees. With a major contribution to global economies, driven by the diverse needs and preferences of customers for leisure, business, and special events, THEM encompasses various businesses, including hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, event planning companies, and more.

When considering the impact of AI on the job industry, five prevailing beliefs emerge:

The sceptics, influenced by humorous robot and AI failure compilations on platforms like YouTube, view AI as mere fiction.

The cautious, who foresee AI replacing certain jobs, and are busy proactively upskilling or reskilling, a sentiment echoed in the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report.

The believers, exemplified by the global youth, emphasizing that AI will generate new employment opportunities.

The contenders, contesting that AI remains reliant on human ingenuity, as it cannot perform tasks necessitating creativity, conceptualization, intricate strategic planning, novel issue resolution, or soft skills such as empathy and compassion. Remarkably, advanced generative pre-trained transformers and robots like Sophia and her siblings are challenging this notion.

Lastly, the harborers of the gloomy view that AI will terminate humanity.

Besides these convictions, it’s a reality that automation has emerged as the primary driver of digital transformation unfolding across various sectors. According to Frey and Osborne’s probability of computerization, the service industries will face the most severe levels of automation.

THEM, like other sectors, is moving towards greater automation. Consistent with its history of early technology adoption, THEM has seen AI technologies leveraged to enhance various business aspects, from customer service and marketing to operations and guest experiences.

In 2015, THEM suppliers integrated intelligent machinery. KLM unveiled Spencer, a passenger-guide robot at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, while Japan’s Henn na Hotel, the first robot hotel, opened at Huis Ten Bosch amusement park. Three years later, KLM introduced Care-E, a self-driving luggage trolley for flight passengers. Despite some guest complaints leading to the dismissal of robot front desk staff, Henn na Hotel expanded globally, employing various robots (and dinosaurs) for tasks such as receptioning, cloakrooms, portering and in-room assistance, among others.

Intelligent automation in THEM has pros and cons for tourists and destinations. Service providers benefit from increased productivity, cost savings, streamlined decision-making, better tourist support, efficient operations, flexible workplaces with collaboration between employees and smart systems, heightened safety, and increased job satisfaction, ultimately enhancing employee well-being. If the highest rate of job replacement by AI is likely to be in service delivery, in the tourism sector, this transcribes into:

  • <1% (no risk) teachers and instructors. This is backed by the 2023 future of job report which has teaching covering 30% of the top 10 largest growth jobs. 
  • <10% (low risk): lodging managers, human resources managers, sales and marketing managers, first-line supervisors, food service managers, and chef and head cooks.
  • 20% – 80% (medium risk): concierges, customer service representatives, housekeeping cleaners, and laundry and dry-cleaning workers (ranked from low to high)
  • >80% (High risk): line cook, food server, counter attendant, and hostess.

Industry 5.0 (including THEM) will highly rely on employee-AI interaction. This will require managers skilled in the (a) efficient utilization of AI agents, (b) management of man-machine Hybrid Teams. Policy makers will require proficiency in computational public policy, regulatory AI application and development, balance between human and nonhuman employees, and ensuring AI benefits all. Entry-level employees will be required competency in collaborating with AI colleagues. The new skillset will thus likely be:

To pursue a career in AI within THEM, it’s essential to develop a strong understanding of AI tech, data analysis, and industry trends. Consider acquiring relevant certifications, gaining practical experience through projects, and networking within the industry. Additionally, keep up with AI advancements and ethics for excellence.