Skift Take

We've heard for several years how travel brands will use new technology to make travel seamless. We wish it would happen next year. But it sounds like we'll have to wait awhile. Perhaps someday we'll get there.

Priceline Group CEO Glenn Fogel said he hopes someday his company’s artificial intelligence platform knows customers better than the neighborhood travel agent of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.

“That new system will never forget what your preferences are, will know you even better and will be able to look throughout the world at everything,” he said at last month’s Skift Global Forum in New York.

Perhaps, Fogel said, the AI of the future will activate when it knows a traveler’s flight is delayed or canceled. At that point, he said, it might rebook customers, possibly on another airline. The traveler wouldn’t have to ask. “I want it to automatically be solved,” he told Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

Many airlines already have similar functionality, rebooking customers without telling them. But Fogel’s vision for goes further, in part because Priceline can control all aspects of the travel experience, including flights, hotels, cars, and restaurant reservations.

Once it knew a customer was on a different flight, Fogel said Priceline might contact the traveler’s car service, asking it to change the airport pick-up time. But if the new flight arrival time meant the traveler would reach the new city during rush hour, the platform might suggest light rail instead.

In addition, if the traveler had booked a restaurant reservation, perhaps through OpenTable, owned by Priceline, Fogel said the system could automatically move dinner an hour or two later.

Meanwhile, at the hotel, Fogel said arrival could be seamless, since the front desk would know when the customer would show up.

“More than anything, when I finally get to that hotel, I don’t want to wait 10 minutes to check in,” he said. “Then when I get into the room, I want to have the beer I want waiting in the minibar — not what everyone else wants.”

It seems simple enough. But Fogel said he’s a realist. The technology, he said, is not yet sophisticated enough to make it possible.

“We’re not so close,” he said. “But we’re getting there.”

Watch the entire interview above. Or consider reading more coverage of the Skift Global Forum. 

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation for panels such as this as well as solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2018 events.

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Tags: glenn fogel, priceline, sgf2017, skift global forum

Photo credit: Priceline CEO Glenn Fogel is bullish on artificial intelligence, but said it may take some time before it makes the travel experience seamless. Skift

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