Skift Take

Hospitality brands stand to benefit from both the creative possibilities and the efficiency that AI will bring. Here's how to start thinking about it now.

Series: On Experience

On Experience

Colin Nagy, a marketing strategist, writes this opinion column for Skift on hospitality and business travel. On Experience dissects customer-centric experiences and innovation across the luxury sector, hotels, aviation, and beyond. He also covers the convergence of conservation and hospitality.

You can read all of his writing here.

We’ve seen the flood of LinkedIn posts and professionals making confident proclamations about the future of AI. Truth is, this is a stage of learning, observing, and asking a lot of questions. There is not a lot of certainty, which means it is a fruitful time for travel brands to experiment and see what sticks.

The one true insight I’ve read coming out of the countless discussions about ChatGPT and AI is: “Mediocrity is now free of charge.” You can type up web copy, write blog posts and articles, and generally use synthetic intelligence to do a lot of low-to-medium-level things. But what are the larger opportunities for brands in hospitality in the age of generative AI? How will the staff and AI interplay work? A few thoughts on the opportunity spaces:

Break up visual homogeny with brand imagery and social
AI allows for interesting visual experimentation. Creatives can use prompts with tools like Dall-E2 to take mood boards from static constructs to evolving and highly nuanced territories. Hospitality suffers from a lot of brands looking the same, and with the right human creative and AI partnership, a unique and visually differentiated territory can be carved out. In the near future, logos and foundational elements of major brands will be created by generative AI (with the helpful hand of a human creative director.) This is already happening with the work of designers such as Otherword, former Pentagram designers who are the forefront of the space.

Experiment and push brand tone
Similar to visual exploration, tools like Chat GPT can be used to quickly evolve the brand voice and guidelines. Working with a copywriter, you can take existing brand and tone guidelines and add additional inputs to add more depth or new elements to copy to pop with younger audiences, all while respecting the master brand tone. Tools like Moonbeam AI can help with blog-focused social and web content, serving as a writing assistant. Tools like EZ newswire use AI to streamline the press release writing and distribution process.

Better understand your audience and reviews, quickly
There are tools to help sift through the mountains of consumer feedback, online posts, and reviews to help to derive actual insights and make changes to the customer or guest experience. This is a gigantic opportunity space for hospitality brands who need to iterate and action feedback as quickly as software companies. Tools like Synthetic Users allows for user research without the recruitment to optimize products and to identity potential blockers.

Ensure better brand governance
It’s a consistent battle at large hospitality brands to ensure content is on brand standard across markets, different hotel properties, and also in user-generated media. Brand governance will be a major territory where AI will take out some of the heavy lifting. is a series of AI models trained on a company’s specific brand guidelines allowing teams to both monitor and validate brand assets at machine speed. The system “scores marketing content for brand consistency and filters out off-brand messaging and spam.”

Draw inspiration from the archives
One of the most exciting spaces for hospitality brands will be to unleash AI on a brand’s historical archives, images, designs to create something entirely new. Imagine ingesting the entire storied history of say, Raffles, and having it create something completely new based on a specific prompt. There will be a meaningful opportunity to tap into archival history to create new, engaging content and experiences for an audience. We are in the first innings of this, but when companies can create and ingest a custom archive and then use generative AI to build from it, interesting things will happen.

Understand the next wave of the AI-empowered self-directed traveler
Tools like Chat GPT is coming for middlemen, and the inefficient layers of the travel agent space. While I’ve long argued that travel agents do create value, brands need to understand the implications on what these new tools plus the self-directed millennial (and Gen Z) travelers mean for their direct bookings, and how to find them. For example, what if I asked Chat GPT: “Pretend you are a travel advisor: I want to take a holiday in Tanzania at an ultra-luxury resort. Please recommend me an itinerary and hotels, and advise on flights in and out of the country, including transfers and regional flights.” Today, the first portion of this can be answered quickly, and tomorrow the entire end-to-end equation will be solved. Building a direct booking relationship with these audiences (using AI where the old travel agent would have sat) will be an opportunity for brands.

Re-wire customer service
It goes without saying that the last wave of chatbots was underwhelming. When new services get trained on every question and validated answer ever asked by a consumer, there will be a lot more nuance, resolutions, and fewer jammed phone lines in times of crisis. This will free up the human teams to focus on actioning the solutions, and creating actual moments of customer engagement and delight, and not just ingest and fielding the comments.

Right now, it is the wild West in a fun way. And surely there will be some latency in how quickly some of these tools and developments are actioned. But for the most forward-thinking marketers and brand managers, there is an opportunity to supercharge the business value that the brand and marketing departments being to the org by leading some of this change from the front. It is a once-in-a-career opportunity.


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Tags: artificial intelligence, future of lodging, hotels, travel technology

Photo credit: AI may transform hospitality in many ways. Pictured, Groups360 and Hilton personnel discussed a booking solution for group room blocks. Source: Hilton.

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