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Thinking deeply about the emotions around travel shopping and search

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The travel and tourism industry needs to be aware that facial and emotional recognition software will become advanced enough to influence travellers’ decisions, says the Top 100 City Destination Ranking WTM London 2017 Edition.

The report, from Euromonitor International, highlights current initiatives from Expedia and Accor to back its claim.
“Brands and advertisers will increasingly move towards reading consumers’ emotional and physical responses without filters, in situations such as shopping, searching for a holiday, or when arriving at a hotel reception after a long flight,” it states.
AccorHotels worked with startup Travelsify to launch “MoodMatch” this March, described as an inspirational  new search experience based entirely on the moods and experiences of travellers.
Travelsify has created a HotelDNA score for 1,000 AccorHotels properties based on its analysis of all guest and expert comments posted about the properties online. Travelsify says there are 34 different components to a HotelDNA score. Accor’s home page allows users to search for these properties by mood rather than destination. The results show a selection of hotels with the match percentage between the moods chosen by the user and the DNA score.
Meanwhile Expedia Inc is using facial recognition software to analyse how users respond to its mobile and web brands. Its Usability Labs runs test where sensors are attached to research subjects’ faces, giving observers insight into their emotions as they navigate the sites.
The ability for brands across all verticals to access the technology required to run such tests is becoming more accessible as more startups enter the fray. Euromonitor points out that Apple has acquired Emotient, a San Diego-based startup analyzing facial expressions to detect emotions. Elsewhere, Affectiva, one of the many businesses coming out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offers “emotion as a service” by applying machine-learning algorithms to facial responses to generate results which show the emotion of a user.
Facial recognition is also seen in context of improving the security and efficiency of travel. At a government level the US is stepping up its implementation and use of facial recognition at its border control and airports, while Delta Air Lines is testing facial recognition scanners at its check-in kiosks, to ensure the traveller’s face matches their passport photo.
The report goes on to suggest that the next development could be software which can read brain activity. San Francisco-based Emotiv already builds “brain wearables [which] offer access to advanced brain monitoring and cognitive assessment technologies at affordable price points.”
While facial recognition is growing and brain activity tracking is in its infancy, voice recognition is relatively established and mainstream. The reports says how brands such as Expedia and Kayak have apps through which consumers can receive information about flights, hotels and make bookings through Alexa, while hotel chains such as Marriott are using Alexa as virtual concierges, and for voice-controlled lights, room temperature and music.
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press, said: “Innovations around voice, facial and emotional recognition are taking place around speeding up.  Travel has always been at the forefront of new tech and with brands such as Expedia and Accor already heavily involved in the recognition space, all travel brands, supplier or destination should pay close attention.”

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