Technology for the travel industry will become more ‘human-like’ in future as consumers become more open to dealing with robots in all aspects of their lives – even sex.
Consumer psychologist Dr Paul Marsden, of digital communications agency Syzygy, used the analogy of sex robots – and the fact consumers were not averse to trials with them – to demonstrate how holidaymakers would welcome more “intimate, personal and humanised” technology.
It follows findings from a survey by Syzygy on 6,000 people in the US, UK and Germany in the third quarter of last year in which 34% respondents said they would accept a trial with a sex robot, while 66% said no.
When split by country, 29% of UK respondents said yes to a trial, compared to 37% in Germany and 35% in the US. In the UK, 40% of men and 20% of women said they would agree to it.
Speaking at Travolution-sister magazine Aspire’s Leaders of Luxury conference, which focused on the luxury travel sector, Marsden said: “Artifical intelligence has the potential to completely transform luxury travel.
“We found people were open to digital being more part of their lives, and their sexual lives. There is interest in this technology and openness to sex robots. There is no ‘uncanny valley’ (when technology becomes so humanlike people feel revulsed by it).
“The future of social media is intimate, personal and humanised. This what I mean when I say the future is sex robots. The future of luxury travel is sex robots – it is intimate, personal and humanised.”
He urged the industry to look beyond Instagram and Facebook and think about artificial intelligence as a way of communicating and meeting holidaymakers’ needs.
Already the travel sector is using AI to an extent, he added, citing a hotel in Japan staffed by robots and Amazon’s new Alexa for hospitality for hotel guests to use as their ‘in-room concierge’.
Syzygy’s survey also showed most respondents want a concierge to have a female voice, be emotionally intelligent and have a sense of humour. Conscientiousness was the personality trait most wanted by people in AI.
Marsden added: “The future is about experiences but it’s also about how we make the extraordinary accessible. As a luxury industry we need to make friends with the robots. We need to get into bed with them – metaphorically.”