ZUMATA: your personal cognitive booking agent

Watson provides natural language interface for travelers


If you’re like me, making travel plans can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. But, what if you had everything you would need to know about your vacation in the palm of your hand and in real time? Thanks to cognitive technologies, there are now apps to help you have the best travel experience ever.

Companies like ZUMATA, a travel technology company, are the latest to jump on the growing need for new ways of performing travel searches. ZUMATA integrates IBM Watson cognitive services to improve the online hotel booking experience for you and travel services companies like Expedia or Amadeus.

ZUMATA, a Singapore-based company, uses data and images aggregated from more than 60 global hotel providers and ever-expanding database of structured and unstructured data, which includes descriptions of 500,000 properties, hotel images, and social media reviews and ratings — all of which ultimately come from external data sources. The platform goes beyond the generic search results driven by destination and date. By tapping into Watson, the platform enables travelers to ask questions in natural language and receive recommendations based on publicly available information, from social media reviews, to written and even visual content provided by hotel operators. The results personalize your preferences, giving you just what you need when you need it.

Not only that, but during your travels you can also seek support from ZUMATA’s intelligent agent. You can ask questions about or make changes to your bookings in natural language, and the agent can answer and take action on your requests from any device in real time. It’s like having a personal concierge.

“Consumers are looking for inspiration, relevance, and convenience because travel planning is overwhelming and time-consuming,” said Gary Theis, CTO of ZUMATA. “As a travel technology company, we now have the cognitive expertise to match consumers with their perfect trip. Our partnership with IBM Watson will make travel personal again.”

ZUMATA uses a combination of Watson APIs, including Watson Conversation, Retrieve and Rank, AlchemyLanguage, and Visual Recognition, to deliver a sophisticated and relevant trip discovery experience.

For example, you might type or say “I need a luxury hotel in Sydney with a view of the opera house, an indoor pool, and free WiFi.” Results returned will display images of the hotel view, amenities, and reviews about the hotel from other travelers’ online reviews. The best part is the system learns with each interaction, and becomes more customized to your preferences over time.

ZUMATA is a IBM Choice Awards winner, recognized for its ability to leverage IBM Watson’s suite of API’s in formulating tools and solutions for businesses that enhance the customer experience throughout the entire customer journey.

The IBM Choice Awards recognize Business Partners globally for their outstanding performance and commitment to delivering exceptional solutions to drive business value and transform the way clients and industries operate.

ZUMATA joins the likes of Wayblazer and Red Skios tapping into Watson’s functionality to help you have a more personalized vacation experience.

“Visit Orlando” is a destination-based mobile app developed by Wayblazer, that uses artificial intelligence technology from IBM to understand conversational language. It pulls in declared (facts shared when a user signs up), observed (information from a linked social media profile), and inferred (evidence from

previous searches) data from users.

The app then offers personalized recommendations tailored to users’ specific needs and preferences. For example, if you ask Watson to search for:

● Where can I eat that has live music?

● Which hotel has a spa?

● Where can I find a scenic view in Orlando?

You get back just the top results, instead of hundreds.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the app even has a Pokemon-style game where users can collect “magical orbs,” colorful circles branded with the Visit Orlando logo, across the region. By collecting orbs, players will receive discounts at various member destinations. They also will be entered into sweepstakes sponsored by Visit Orlando.

Red Skios collaborated with The Center for Arts, Culture, and Tourism (CACT) of Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, to create an app that helps visitors have a more immersive experience on their visit. The mobile app becomes your personal guide, in your language, that adapts to your tastes via a personal and professional profile. For instance, if you’re a biologist, the app will highlight that Jameos del Agua Lake is the only place on Earth where you can find unique species of crabs. Because it’s based on IBM Watson cognitive technologies, it learns from your experience — the more the app is used, the more Watson will cater the recommendations to your preferences.

Even though computers can search millions of options every second of every day helping you find a good hotel or meal it is now possible, due to AI, for them to “learn” how to deliver more nuanced results helping you have a more immersive, interactive, and informative travel experience.