Last updated: 04:30 PM ET, Wed November 09 2016

How Do Tourists Feel About Machines Being in Charge of Security?

Travel Technology | Patrick Clarke | November 09, 2016

How Do Tourists Feel About Machines Being in Charge of Security?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

More than one-half of U.K. tourists believe that robots will soon be in charge of airport and hotel security checks, according to the Future of Travel survey commissioned by global travel deals publisher Travelzoo.

Nonetheless, the same survey uncovered that two-thirds of tourists (67 percent) are afraid of the idea of technology like robots, artificial intelligence and data-processing machines replacing humans when it comes to travel safety and security.

That said, more than one-third of tourists (35 percent) believe machines would dramatically improve safety and security at consumer-facing airport and hotel checkpoints, compared to one-quarter (26 percent) who believe technology would be a downgrade from humans.

What advantages to machines have over humans?

Nearly eight in 10 tourists (77 percent) say machines learn processes faster and have better memories than humans (76 percent). What's more, 73 percent believe machines are less likely to make mistakes.

On the flip side, a majority of U.K. tourists believe that humans boast higher emotional intelligence and a better understanding of facial expressions, with 92 percent and 84 percent in agreement, respectively. 

Unsurprisingly, more than nine in 10 (93 percent) also feel humans are better at expressing feelings.

READ MORE: Hotel of Tomorrow: How Technology Will Improve the Guest Experience

Therefore, it should also come as no surprise that most tourists (54 percent) believe that a combination of humans and technology is the safest option.

The survey suggests that while travelers have faith in technology in certain situations, they remain skeptical. For example, 60 percent said they would choose a plane flown by a human pilot with no auto-pilot assistance over a plane flown by autopilot with no human assistance, while only 18 percent would even consider riding in a driverless car.

"Although travelers accept robots and technology are going to play a big role in making travel safer and more secure over the next few years, the research confirms that consumers are skeptical about handing total control for their safety over to machines," said Travelzoo's president of Europe Richard Singer in a statement.

"We know robots and artificial intelligence are becoming commonplace in the travel industry, and with the advent of technology allowing us to do things we couldn't have dreamed just a few years ago, our research shows there's an expectation of automatons being used to keep us safe too," Singer added. "Travel providers though need to err on the side of caution when deploying robotics in the industry, particularly in customer-facing roles where robots need to work hand-in-hand with humans, if they are going to be accepted by travelers."

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