As announcements have been made around ChatGPT and consumer-facing travel booking tech, other companies have been quietly working away on business-to-business generative AI products. There's more to come, no doubt.
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While there has been talk about the wide array of possibilities generative AI could have on the travel industry, most of the attention and action so far has been around consumer-facing travel planning and booking capabilities. OpenAI announced last week that it is partnering with Expedia Ground and Kayak, among a handful of other tech companies, on plug-ins to marry ChatGPT travel itinerary generation and bookings.
Duve — which offers software for digital check-in, upselling, guest communication, and more — is among the first travel tech companies that has shared how it plans to use generative AI to power business-to-business products. The Israel-based company recently opened a waitlist for hotel companies that want to beta test the new software, which will begin in the coming days.
“Up until now, we didn’t do any AI in our product, and obviously, the entire space is moving in that direction,” said Adir Ron, chief marketing officer for Duve. “We’ve been working on it behind the scenes for a while, and we felt that now is the right time to start showing what we have.”
The biggest focus right now is how the OpenAI tech can improve the hub for communication between hotel staff and guests.
Ron said the top interest is for a product that helps hotel staff prioritize customer messages. The message five minutes ago about today’s reservation, for example, is likely more important than a message from three days ago about next month’s reservation. But having to organize them manually can lead to late responses and poor customer reviews.
The AI analyzes the messages and relevant data to help staff determine which should receive priority, Ron said. On top of that, the generative AI can summarize the message in a sentence — especially helpful for the common long message — as well as draft a response that the hotelier can edit and send.
“Out of the five use cases that we’re launching, I think the one that we heard our customers most excited about is that sentiment analysis and prioritization because that really makes a difference in the life of a front desk manager,” Ron said.
Duve is also testing how generative AI can make its existing recommendation service easier to operate. The company already offers a service that allows hotels to make personalized recommendations to guests, but that copy is written by Duve manually.
“Instead of manually curating that content and writing hundreds of posts — some of our customers manage 300, 400, 500 posts live at any given moment for specific customer types and interests — generating those with AI makes a lot more sense and lets you create content faster,” Ron said.
The company is continuing to test how the tech from OpenAI could strengthen its products and be the basis for more. One possibility is using AI to analyze customer reviews and pull data that could lead to an improvement in operations or customer service. Another is using AI to examine Duve’s marketplace of vendors so hotels can find and add the most relevant add-on services for guests.
While the hospitality industry generally worries that more automation could lead to the lack of a personal touch that certain hotel guests tend to enjoy, Ron argues that using this type of tech frees up the staff person to spend more time interacting with guests.
“It’s really about empowering hoteliers to just reduce clutter, lower overheads, get rid of technological barriers, and focus on a one to one personal interaction,” he said.
It’s too soon to know how well hotels will respond to these new AI capabilities that Duve is offering. But it’s an early example of how generative AI could impact other areas of the travel industry. As others have said, there may be designers eventually sharing how generative AI is powering the design of next-generation aircraft and modern airports.
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