Skift Take

Most of the attention around generative AI and travel has been around consumer products, but more business-to-business companies are using it too.

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Skift has covered quite a few travel companies as they have released products powered by generative AI. Most have been about consumer travel planning and booking, primarily because those were the first products announced and released. 

More are rolling out, but there have also been releases from business-to-business companies, particularly in hotel tech. And there will certainly be more. 

Highlighted below are ways tech companies in the hotel and short-term rental sectors are enhancing their platforms with generative AI:

HiJiffy is among the first hotel tech companies using generative AI that has raised venture capital. The startup announced this week that it has raised $4.2 million (€3.8 million).

HiJiffy has been using conversational AI for a while to help hotels automate responses to customers. Before integrating generative AI, the software offered pre-written responses that could include unrelated information.

With the integration, the company claims its software is able to respond to specific questions with specific answers, drawing from the database of information attached to the individual hotel client.  

“That was one of the struggles of the onboarding of new clients, they had to organize all the content in their content management system manually. And now we do it automatically,” said HiJiffy founder Tiago Araújo.

HiJiffy says its “pre-stay” product is able to quickly answer about 80 percent of guest questions about the hotel, such as check-in time and parking availability, meant to help drive more direct bookings. 

Through connections with the hotel’s main property management system and other software, the HiJiffy “in-stay” product is able to answer questions guests may have during their hotel stay, such as making restaurant reservations or ordering room service. Again, the goal is boost revenue.

At departure, there are messages about check-out and leaving a review.

The startup is working with more than 1,800 hotels in more than 50 countries, primarily in the UK, France, and Portugal. Some clients include hotels from Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, Exclusive, and Accor. The company plans to strengthen its presence in the UK market and expand into Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. 

Araújo said the startup grew 150 percent during the pandemic because of the labor shortage — an issue still present today. 

“Most of our clients are doing very well in terms of revenue. They’re doing very well in terms of bookings. But what we hear the most of their struggles is with staff,” Araújo said. “We’re seeing it globally, with a big staff shortage, and they’re trying to automate as many processes as they can.” 

The company was already in the process of raising money when it integrated generative AI into the products. The venture capital round of $2.7 million (€2.5 million) was led by Caixa Capital, with participation from Lince Capital and Portugal Ventures. The other $1.4 million (€1.3 million) was a grant from the European Commission through the Recovery and Resilience Plan, focused on tourism acceleration and transformation. 

Walter Palma, director of Caixa Capital, believes HiJiffy is working to fill a gap in the industry. And the integration of generative AI may be able to move that process more quickly. 

“This space of chatbots for hotels — it’s quite fragmented at the moment. You don’t have any clear leaders in the market,” Palma said.

“There will be new competitors coming up in the market and there will be alternatives. But if they can leverage, now, this type of technology quickly and improve In the customer experience with the help of [large language models], this could be an accelerant to consolidating the space. And we think they’re clearly in a good position to do that.”

Boostly, a company that works to help short-term rentals get more direct bookings, recently added a ChatGPT integration into its service for clients. 

Among its services, the company helps rental operators build a website that’s integrated with their property management system. 

The Boostly platform now includes an integrated ChatGPT to help property managers create property listings, blog posts, and branded website copy. The service is meant to help property managers save time and more easily generate high-quality content that shows up in online searches, said Mark Simpson, Boostly founder. 

“What I’ve known to be true over the last six, seven years is that when a host really struggles, it’s with good copy or the words to use,” he said. 

“It’s not going to be a copy-and-paste solution. It will get you 80 percent of the way there. And then you’ve got to use that last 20 percent to personalize it to your brand, personalize it to your needs. 

In the meantime, Boostly plans on hiring a developer that can integrate ChatGPT into other parts of the business, both in ways that benefit customers and the company itself. 

“We want to give everybody the opportunity to take advantage of this technology right now in terms of content creation. And then in the future, who knows what we can do?”

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Tags: artificial intelligence, chatgpt, generative ai, hotel tech, OpenAi, property management, property managers, short-term rentals, the prompt, Travel Tech Briefing, travel technology

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