Today's edition of Skift's daily podcast looks closer at tourism marketing in top U.S. cities, Amazon's AI customer service tools, and Booking.com's new AI trip planner.
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Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, June 28. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Several major U.S. cities are facing a similar challenge in their quest to make a full recovery from the pandemic — the absence of suburban residents. Urban destination marketing organizations acknowledge they need the critical group to help boost visitor numbers, writes Global Tourism Reporter Dawit Habtemariam.
Habtemariam reports that prior to the pandemic, suburban residents often commuted to the city for work and then attended various events. Those activities kept businesses running and cities vibrant, which benefited local tourism industries. However, destination marketing organizations admit to having to counter negative perceptions about crime in their cities. In addition, the rise of remote work has made promoting activities more difficult to suburbanites making fewer trips downtown.
Habtemariam writes some cities are launching campaigns to convince suburban residents to frequent urban attractions, citing Chicago and Minneapolis as examples. He adds that suburbanites can be ambassadors for nearby destinations, often helping encourage travelers to spend time in major cities.
Next, executives from Amazon Web Services are bullish on artificial intelligence transforming how travel companies offer personalized customer service — possibly as early as next year, writes Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes.
Amazon Web Services representatives at this week’s HITEC travel tech conference in Toronto explained how they’re working with major travel brands eager to incorporate advanced AI into their operations. Amazon Web Services has found only 15 percent of travel companies are using AI at an advanced level. But one executive said she expects to see more hyper-personalized content in the travel industry. Amazon Web Services has already worked with Hyatt to help the hotel giant make personalized recommendations for customers, including specific hotels that matched their interests.
Dawes adds that hyper-personalization means companies will be able to present images and text based on detailed data customers provide.
Finally, Booking.com is rolling out on Wednesday an artificial intelligence-powered trip planner as part of its Genius travel rewards program. But that trip planner will use OpenAI’s ChatGPT as its base instead of Google Bard, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.
Schaal writes Booking.com’s decision is somewhat surprising considering its long relationship with Google. Booking.com is one of Google’s largest travel advertisers. However, Schaal notes critics have largely held OpenAI’s ChatGPT in higher regard than Google Bard. Booking.com said its own AI Trip Planner will field questions on its mobile app from travelers about destinations and accommodation options.
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Photo credit: Central Park in New York City. Tom Lowry / Skift