Online travel firm loveholidays has revealed that artificial intelligence (AI) is helping the group expand further across Europe as it uses the technology to speed up its route into new countries.
Chief executive Donat Retif told the PA news agency that the group has been using AI to aid its expansion plans as it strives to become Europe’s biggest package holiday group.
He said AI helped to pave the way for the group’s recent launch in Germany by helping it with locally specific information online, which would otherwise have taken teams of people to re-write thousands of web pages.
He said without AI and tech, “we wouldn’t have been able to expand so quickly internationally and into Germany”.
“Our business plan was always to aid our expansion and growth using technology to do things we couldn’t have done without a team of people and millions of budget.”
Loveholidays expanded into Germany in May, following its launch into Ireland in 2016.
The move came just weeks after it claimed its position as the UK’s third largest travel firm holding a license from the Air Travel Organizers’ Licensing (ATOL) scheme, serving 2.5 million passengers from the UK alone this year.
It is also targeting other European countries with the ultimate aim to grow its footprint across the world.
Tech has been key to the group’s expansion so far, with AI far from a threat, according to Mr Retif, who describes the firm as a “technology business”.
It has already been using AI to help with its customer service, developing a chatbot called Sandy, which now answers 68% of all customer service chats received by the firm.
“When there’s a new technology, you need to embrace it and in the travel industry there’s lots of opportunities,” said Mr. Retif.
“I don’t see for our business model any threats (from AI).”
The group’s chatbot helped it get on top of the surge in customer requests to amend their holidays seen during the pandemic, which rocketed from around 220,000 a year pre-Covid to about 360,000 in the first year of the pandemic.
“We launched our chatbot way before AI was a hot topic – we launched it because we needed to answer that demand.”
Love holidays is also beefing up its tech team, with plans to hire another 110 people, he added.