It’s one of the most important, albeit least enjoyable aspects of the holiday experience, but according to the Future of Travel survey commissioned by global travel deals publisher Travelzoo, 51% of UK tourists predict customer-facing security checks at airports and hotels will soon be in the hands of technology such as robots, artificial intelligence and data-processing machines. However, for two thirds (67%), the idea of technology replacing humans in roles that are related to safety and security is frightening. These are the most important findings of the second wave of the Travelzoo Future of Travel survey, presented by Travelzoo’s President of Europe, Richard Singer, at the World Travel Market (WTM) conference in London.
With recent global events making safety and security the top priority for travellers, 45% of Britons who participated in the survey say they are expecting technology to replace humans in many security roles within a few years, and 35% believe that doing so would dramatically improve safety and security in travel-versus 26% who think security would not be improved if technology fully replaces humans.
The majority of UK tourists (77%) who participated in the survey believe machines learn processes faster, have better memories than humans (76%) and are less likely to make mistakes (73%).
For seven out of 12 key skillsets needed for roles in travel and tourism, technology scores higher than humans. Where humans fare better is in the ‘softer skills’ such as higher emotional intelligence levels (92%), understanding facial expressions (84%) and expressing feelings (93%). Respondents also feel that overall humans provide better security against terrorism than technology such as robots and artificial intelligence.
Richard Singer, Travelzoo’s President of Europe says: “Although travellers accept robots and technology are going to play a big role in making travel safer and more secure over the next few years, the research confirms that consumers are sceptical about handing total control for their safety over to machines.”
When asked who performs better-robots or humans-in security-related roles at airports, around half believe humans perform better on security scanners at airports (46%), and when checking passports at border control (52%). In fact, the only role where consumers feel technology could perform better, or as well as humans, is loading checked baggage onto a plane (64%)-but only once that baggage has been through a ‘human’ security check.