From chatbots to smart contracts, technology is transforming the way the travel industry works.
Guest comment by Anya Topley, solicitor at asb law
By its very nature the industry is a rich source of data, so the myriad ways that technology offers to maximise business efficiency, while improving customer experience, is too good an opportunity to miss.
For example, Hilton Hotels, in collaboration with IBM, is piloting a robot concierge called Connie. Aimed at personalising the guest experience, assisting with queries and providing guests with information to help plan trips, Connie learns from its interactions with guests.
The collection of such vast amounts of data has serious data protection implications, particularly with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) only a few months away
Amadeus uses artificial intelligence (AI) to offer specifically tailored travel offers based on a customer’s preferences and needs; while KLM is using Facebook’s Messenger app to allow passengers to request their boarding pass.
Finally, Axa is trialling Fizzy, a smart contract-based flight delay insurance that automatically pays out if a flight is delayed by more than two hours.
So far so good for business, but what are the legal implications that this technology brings? All these technologies rely on data, or big data to be specific – huge amounts of real-time information obtained from different sources. However, its varying nature makes it difficult to analyse using conventional methods, which is where AI comes in. AI analyses big data to create models from which inferences and predictions can be made, but it also learns and adapts accordingly.
The collection of such vast amounts of data has serious data protection implications, particularly with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) only a few months away. Some of the key points to consider are:
The use of these technologies raises a number of issues over intellectual property rights. These include:
Therefore, it is important to ensure that contracts with technology suppliers address these points.
If something goes wrong with the technology being used, who is responsible? Historically, the party who caused the loss would be held responsible. However, when using technology such as AI, the cause of defects may be inexplicable or not due to human error. Again, ensure contracts clearly set out:
Until the law “catches up” with the developments taking place, if you are using these types of technology, then you should be aware of the legal implications, assess the benefits of using the technology against the legal risks, and take steps to mitigate those risks wherever possible.
Anya Topley is a solicitor at asb law LLP