Spying on your state of mind: Expedia, TUI, Destination U using face recognition

Spying on your state of mind: Expedia, TUI, Destination U using face recognition
Forget privacy, money talks here. How would you feel if a salesman you’re talking to already knows your answer and knows your mood? Although facial recognition software is being trialed by two leading travel companies in a bid to use emotional responses to provide personalized holiday recommendations, there remains significant scope to develop the technology in order to increase customer conversion rates.

Elena Mogoş, an Associate Analyst of a Digital Travel & Tourism Company, says: “Facial recognition software registers unfiltered, real-time emotional responses, which – if correctly evaluated – can provide more profound answers to customers’ needs and wishes. In addition to better precision and efficiency, the solution could drastically decrease the time spent deciding on a holiday destination, which in turn reduces frustration and the likelihood of abandoning the holiday package purchase.”

Germany-based travel and tourism group TUI and London-based emotional intelligence company Realeyes developed a prototype facial recognition machine – Destination U – in October 2017. Designed in the shape of TUI’s logo, the futuristic chair is equipped with over 2,000 images, which represent around 60 different holiday choices.

Destination U, which is currently in the testing stage, uses facial coding and emotion measurement technology to stimulate imaginations and tap into the subconscious. A unique algorithm computes every subtle facial expression to a rapid series of evocative moving images of destinations and experiences and uses that data to prescribe a ‘perfect holiday’ destination for customers.

Expedia’s ebookers.com introduced an online facial recognition tool– SenseSational–in December 2017 to provide holiday recommendations to customers.

Mogoş adds: “The modern traveler expects every service and product to be as personalized as possible, and thus travel companies cannot use a one-size-fits-all-strategy any longer. Destination U and SenseSational are a good start for customer-facing innovation in the industry.”


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“However, if travel companies want to take full advantage of this technology, they must find ingenious extensions to incorporate into the digital tools, to actually convince customers into ultimately buying their products or services.” 

Author: Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1979), beginning as a travel agent up through today as a publisher of eTurboNews (eTN), one of the world’s most influential and most-read travel and tourism publications. He is also Chairman of ICTP. His experiences include working and collaborating with various national tourism offices and non-governmental organizations, as well as private and non-profit organizations, and in planning, implementing, and quality control of a range of travel and tourism-related activities and programs, including tourism policies and legislation. His major strengths include a vast knowledge of travel and tourism from the point of view of a successful private enterprise owner, superb networking skills, strong leadership, excellent communication skills, strong team player, attention to detail, dutiful respect for compliance in all regulated environments, and advisory skills in both political and non-political arenas with respect to tourism programs, policies, and legislation. He has a thorough knowledge of current industry practices and trends and is a computer and Internet junkie.

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