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From the very beginning, my partners and I at Walk and Explore knew that artificial intelligence would help us create something totally different from what already existed in the travel marketplace.
Travel can expose you to new and amazing experiences. Yet, despite the best laid plans, if you’re new to somewhere these experiences can be hit or miss. Unfamiliar with your surroundings, you can unknowingly bypass an amazing restaurant or memorable local festival. Unaware of local holidays, you can show up to a museum on a day that it’s closed. Or bad weather may ruin your day’s plan for a hike.
Walk and Explore is a smart mobile application that helps avoid missed opportunities and enables users to make the best of their travel experiences. In addition to tourism details, the app provides interesting stories about the city that you’re visiting, and allows you to plan activities and create to-do lists to get the most out of your trip.
Tapping into the power of artificial intelligence (AI), the app provides these services while factoring in variables like weather, local context and user preferences. It also has a gaming element that integrates trivia and challenges to add an extra layer of experience to trips.
Customizing travel with Watson services
Walk and Explore uses IBM Watson services to customize experiences, considering factors like the user’s age, gender and travel interests. It creates personalized activity agendas that users can modify to their liking. Over time, the system learns more about each user, enabling it to provide better recommendations with each use.
Walk and Explore can understand the characteristics of not just a single individual, but of a group. If you’re a family traveling with children, the app will cater to your travel experience differently than, for example, it would for three female college-student travelers.
These personalized agendas are also customized according to time of year, weather and other local factors. For example, in the middle of winter, the app may provide recommendations on where to find a good cup of cocoa. Or, on a stormy summer day, where to pass the time inside until the inclement weather passes.
Using gaming to enhance travel
In addition, Walk and Explore has a gaming element powered by IBM BlueMix. This gaming component enables users to play trivia and do scavenger hunts to make travel more entertaining. The games also help those who provide tourism services to better reach tourists through promotions, rewards and prizes.
Using a web interface, tourism service providers can capture, catalog, document and transform existing information into a knowledge base. This knowledge base can be used by service providers to create tours, quiz games, cartoons, treasure hunts, geo-localized offers and prizes. It can also be used to provide tourists with details on places and events.
The result is more engaging and customized travel experiences for tourists, and a new means by which tourism service providers can reach their target audience.
Changing the travel experience
We were right in our initial view that AI could transform travel and our app has captured the imagination of the industry. In January 2017, we went to a large tourism fair in Barcelona and our solution won the award for Best Destination App due to its utility, convenience and personalization.
The wonderful thing is there’s a lot of technology behind Walk and Explore. Yet, users have no idea that it is powered by AI. Artificial intelligence makes our app, and the travel experiences it helps plan, personalized and unique.
To hear more about Walk and Explore, see the video below featuring Georgina Castanon: