Tripadvisor's generative AI entry is playing to its strengths — tours and activities, and restaurant reservations. Hotels? Maybe they'll get added later.
Dennis' Online Travel Briefing
Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, Executive Editor and online travel rockstar Dennis Schaal will bring readers exclusive reporting and insight into the business of online travel and digital booking, and how this sector has an impact across the travel industry.
Following, Booking.com, Kayak, OpenTable, Expedia and others, Tripadvisor has debuted a beta of an OpenAI-based trip-planning feature with the focus on experiences and dining reservations.
That makes sense because the trip-planner leverages booking links from Tripadvisor’s Viator brand for experiences and attractions, and TheFork for dining reservations. Hotels aren’t part of the mix at this point. Unlike for experiences and restaurants reservations, Tripadvisor as a rule serves as an advertising platform for hotels, and usually doesn’t act as the merchant of record.
Using generative AI and mining Tripadvisor’s roster of more than 1 billion user reviews and opinions, the feature is available in the U.S. only at this juncture and on desktop and the mobile web, according to Wednesday’s announcement.
The rollout is an upgrade to Tripadvisor’s itinerary-building tool, Trips, and users can access it here or through a banner on the Tripadvisor homepage.
The rollout has a different look and feel than other OpenAI-based app features, such as in the Expedia app, where you type a message or question to the chatbot.
Instead for Tripadvisor’s new planning tool, you fill in your destination, the month of the trip or exact dates, whether you are going solo or with family, and the types of activities you are interested in. So for now, at least, there aren’t flight and hotel options.
Depending on your selections, Tripadvisor might produce a three-day trip to Paris with your family, and suggest visiting the Eiffel Tower, for example. You can then buy some tickets via a link through Tripadvisor. (That booking functionality is provided by Tripadvisor’s Viator brand.)
“We know our community is passionate about trip planning, so we wanted to thoughtfully build something that would enhance that experience, not replace it,” said Sanjay Raman, Tripadvisor’s chief product officer. “Personalized results and recommendations from fellow travelers are two of the most important elements of the planning process and generative AI has helped us bring them together in a way we think will be really compelling for travelers. Over the coming months, we’ll continue to upgrade our Trips product – improving the personalization of AI-powered itineraries and expanding the suite of travel planning tools we offer.”
Tripadvisor plans to make the feature available in additional markets and in its mobile app as the beta continues, the company said.
eDreams Odigeo Promises Faster Airline Reservations
One of the big issues during the height of the pandemic was that airlines were slow to provide travelers with cash refunds — sometimes favoring vouchers for future flights instead — and online travel agencies were caught in the middle. They often declined to issue refunds until the airlines in question forwarded the online travel agencies the payments.
Spain-based online travel company eDreams Odigeo, with brands including eDreams, Opodo, Go Voyages and Travellink, pledged this week to give consumers their refunds even before getting compensated by the airlines.
eDreams, which has been taken to task over consumer protection issues over the years, said it is currently handling 15 million euros ($16.8 million) worth of advanced refunds in this manner annually, and intends to increase that figure.
“Through the provision of advanced refunds, the business has effectively reduced the average waiting period to just four days, well below the seven-day limit that airline must adhere to,” the company said.
At the same time, eDreams Odigeo vowed to cease selling flights from 15 airlines, which the company did not name, “that have systematically failed to comply with rules regarding refunds.”
The announcement follows discussion with the European Commission and the Swedish Consumer Agency in which three of the major EU-based online travel agencies, namely eDreams Odigeo, ETraveli Group, and Kiwi.com “committed to better inform consumers in the case of flight cancellations by airlines and to transfer ticket refunds received from airlines within seven days,” according to the European Commission.
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