Dec 13, 2012

Machine Learning and Quantum Leaps for Touristologists!

Long time ago I wrote and, finally, turned in my doctoral thesis. It was about how to apply intelligent systems in the tourism sector (What else?!?!?!). At that time, intelligent systems was the flavor of the month. You can find more information here and  here .To me, their features/benefits were clearly applicable to service sectors. In a nutshell:

1) Intelligent systems /softcomputing can cluster elements. This can be useful for tourism packages creation. You also can use this feature to create segments. As any Touristologist knows, the most important variable /criteria of segmentation in tourism is travel  motivation. Based on this, as we saw in this matrix ,

you can add more variables, from people (tourists) that just like the kind of activity which motivates the trip, to pro-am or professionals. You can add, as variables, special necessities that travelers have during the trip (I think this video about meet and seat from KLM is worth to see) and also the benefits travelers can get through the trip.

2) You can also link together members of different sets. This can be useful, for instance, to recommend specialized packages to specific customers. Can I express more strongly the importance of first specialized then generic?

3) Another feature allows you to forecast outcomes. For instance, sales of a specific tourism product. Possible expenditure in ancillary products can be interesting information when you are dealing with the task of a Revenue Manager.

4) You can also model the actions of an expert in a specific field. So, the intelligent system can pretend to be a human being and give good advice, recommendations, useful information…

Haven’t you read this incredible visionary article by Marc Andreessen? It is full of opportunities and threads to any sector! I strongly recommend it!
Nowadays a lot of articles, books, and courses appear about machine learning, when I read/watch them I soon realize that they are talking about the same idea!

I prefer Intelligent Systems versus Machine learning because apart from making sense of a lot of data, do forecasting and replicate intelligent behavior, the first implies a system and as you know I love Complex systems because to me it’s the scientific bedrock of the Chain of value in Tourism!!!
I love people’s tendency to change the name to something that is basically the same! I have the same feeling when people talk about Revenue Management instead of Yield Management. Or when I compare the evolution of web 2.0 and its possible pitfalls related to a lack of business model as it happened in web 1.0.

Time is not linear but cyclical my fellow Touristologists! Knowledge, professional careers, personal relationships…have an evolution that is better described as a circle than a line.  Like in this picture by the genius Maurits Cornelis Escher… we believe that we are going up or down but in reality we stay in the same place. You can see in this picture some people that have stopped walking. Maybe because they believe that is not useful at all.

Don’t be like them Touristologists! Be aware!  Something is missing in this picture!

Time can advance as a circle BUT from time to time you get a quantum leap and you will have a chance to pass from one average circle to a special one.
Be prepare, be ready and wait for the quantum leap that can transport you to another circle… a superior one. Do you know who will have the opportunity to pass to the next level?
That’s right! The ones that choose not to stop, to keep loocking for new opportunities, to try new things, the ones willing to leave their comfort zone!  
I still strongly believe that…  Intelligent systems, softcomputing and Machine learning…Yield and Revenue Management,… Web X.0… Had, have and will have an incredible transformation effect in our lovely sector. And I will be here surrounded by MY Touristologists to accelerate this transformation and to be sure that it respects our definition of Touristology: “Touristology is the art and science of travel motivation promising improvements in quality of life, international contacts and broader perspectives for the tourist AND a way to take care of culture and create richness and employment for the tourist destination.
Are you ready for the next quantum leap Touristologists? I am!


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