October 2023

Tech Week talk explores harnessing AI in tourism

By Carrie Mok

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As part of Birmingham Tech Week, Debby McAllister, Lecturer in Tourism and Aviation at University College Birmingham, discussed the generative AI landscape in the tourism classroom at Tech in Tourism.

Debby’s talk examined the benefits of generative AI, for example in creating personalised itineraries for consumers, or to develop, enhance and evaluate marketing content across all areas of the industry from destination marketing organisations to tour operators, hoteliers and airlines.

“It was a delight to present at Tourism in Tech. The event focused on understanding some of the technologies that are revolutionising the tourism landscape such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), gamification and artificial intelligence (AI).”

A forward-thinking university, courses at University College Birmingham integrate of state-of-the-art technologies within the curriculum ensuring that students develop career-ready skillsets focused around the latest digital innovations – and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism is no exception.

“My talk on generative AI showcased the work embedded across our tourism and aviation modules, particularly addressing how we’re making use of generative AI within our digital tourism module, whilst cautiously navigating its risks.”

“A fundamental aspect of my talk was emphasising how we not only provide our students with the knowledge and understanding of the benefits and challenges of these technologies but that we’re also teaching and embedding our students with the digital skills they need to support them in the industry.”

Tech in Tourism featured keynote speeches, engaging panel discussions and cutting-edge tech demonstrations within the tourism industry on topics such as immersive tech use at the Birmingham Royal Ballet, designing future tourism experiences and AI within the events industry.

Debby was also a member of the panel discussion, where members of the audience asked questions about Generative AI and some of the risks, such as ethical concerns and potential job displacement.

“Generative AI, for the tourism industry, provides an exciting opportunity to collectively work together to navigate some ethical concerns of technology such as biasness. As a global industry, a people industry, there is the potential to work together with industry partners, to explore how we can tackle and navigate removing biasness, particularly gender and racial biasness, through these technologies.

“As for jobs, there is a global focus on whether technology such as generative AI may lead to job displacement. Whilst technology such as generative AI may enable greater efficiency in some employment aspects, more jobs are likely to be created in the future, such as specific roles to understand, develop and mitigate challenges for tourism within these technologies, such as ‘AI Manager, ‘Digital HR management’ etc.”

University College Birmingham also hosted the Leaders Networking Dinner, alongside partner University of Warwick as part of Birmingham Tech Week.

Business leaders, educators and researchers across fintech, data science, manufacturing, healthtech, AI regulation and more shared knowledge and explored the latest innovations at the institution’s award-winning Restaurant at the Birmingham College of Food.

Explore our School of Hospitality and Tourism or take a look at all of the courses available at University College Birmingham.


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