Travel Agents: You Should Know When You’re Talking to AI

As the world of technology becomes a little more humanistic, the American Society of Travel Agents is making the case that it should be reasonably clear when you’re getting travel advice from a bot, versus a human being.

As the world increasingly focuses on artificial intelligence as an important technical solution, at least one industry thinks it should be clear when you’re talking to a bot.

The American Society of Travel Agents, which created a task force earlier this month to examine technologies that will affect the industry, is making the case that while AI has value, it should be clear whether you’re talking to human or machine.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, ASTA president and CEO, Zane Kerby, said that AI should be transparent to the public, especially when it comes to issues of travel.

“I firmly believe that when you’re talking to a piece of software, you should know that it’s a piece of software, and I don’t think that’s a whole lot to ask,” Kerby said to the outlet.

While the ASTA says that AI is still relatively new to the travel conversation, the group wants to get ahead of things before they get too far, including having a point of view in regulatory discussions.

The discussion comes at a time when tech firms are starting to increase their ambitions with AI technology. For example, the virtual assistant Mezi, which allows people to use natural language when booking flights and hotel rooms, was acquired by American Express in January. And big-name online travel agencies, which have been traditional competitors with human travel agents, are talking about upping their game on this front.

“As we operate in an industry that is incredibly personal, emotional and complex, maintaining the right balance between genuine human interaction and efficient automation is something we’re always trying to fine-tune and optimize throughout every stage of the consumer journey,” noted James Waters,’s global director of customer service, in comments to TechRadar earlier this year.

ASTA says that AI could prove a huge benefit for travel agents from an automation perspective, but it wants to make sure that the laws keep up.

“The regulations have got to catch up to where the market is,” Kerby added in his Travel Weekly comments. “Because of the money being poured in, the market is moving much faster. It happens with most technologies. The market is going to move a lot faster than the regulations and even legislation.”

(anyaberkut/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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