Few of these features seem to have been designed with travel front-of-mind, except for the corporate booking tool — that's getting close to what travelers are asking for.
Microsoft’s announcement Thursday of new tools powered by generative AI included several examples relevant to travelers.
The company said it is integrating the Copilot generative AI chatbot assistant across its suite of products. The meeting was held in person Thursday morning and streamed online later in the day.
Microsoft will begin to roll out updates to Windows 11 starting September 26, and the other products will see updates later this fall.
Microsoft was an early investor in OpenAI, so Microsoft has exclusive access to the company whose tech powers ChatGPT.
Windows 11: Make Travel Plans
Copilot in Windows 11 will take the form of a chatbot window on the right side of the computer screen, according to the announcement video, and acts as a sort of overlay meant to better connect programs across different devices and make certain processes more efficient.
Carmen Zlateff, vice president of Microsoft Windows, shared the travel-related details.
“Our Journey with AI and Windows has only just begun,” Zlateff said.
- A user planning a trip could copy a list of places to potentially visit, paste them into the Copilot window, and ask for an easily digestible summary of each place and the walking distance or time from a specific location.
- A Windows 11 user could ask the Copilot assistant to check text messages from a connected smartphone for information about upcoming flights. It would then respond with a summary that includes important flight info. The chatbot then follows up with questions, such as if the user needs help getting to the airport or navigating the destination city.
- The chatbot can answer a request for dates and times of upcoming events in a destination, such as Broadway shows in New York City with available tickets. The user can then ask Copilot to send that information via text message to a smartphone contact.
(See details about travel-related Windows 11 features starting at 16:55 in this video.)
Bing: Find Events
Microsoft relaunched Bing in February with integrations from Open AI.
The search engine has hosted more than 1 billion chats since then, according to Divya Kumar, general manager of search and AI.
With advancements in the tech since then, Bing is getting an update meant to improve personalized search results.
If the user asks about events this weekend, the search considers past searches to infer which types of events the user may be interested in and delivers results based on that information. The example of the video did not show that Bing provides relevant links in that situation.
“With just a single prompt, Bing brings me personalized results from across the web that matches my interests,” Kumar said.
(See details about travel-related Bing features starting at 26:15 in this video.)
Microsoft 365: Plan Meetings and Corporate Travel
All of the apps in Microsoft 365 — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams — are getting upgraded versions of the Copilot chatbots that were introduced in March. It will be available to enterprise customers in November for $30 per month.
“Thanks to rapid advances over the past few months, today, we’re taking it to a whole new level,” said Colette Stallbaumer, general manager of Microsoft 365, during the event.
Microsoft 365 Chat can connect to data from all those applications to answer questions and complete tasks, the company said.
The company showed an example of how the Copilot chatbot could be useful for meetings and events planners.
A Word user can prompt Copilot to draft an event schedule based on venue and event details saved in other Microsoft documents. Copilot then presents a draft of the schedule, which the user can either copy or open in Word to edit. If the user is sharing that document with others, Copilot can write a professional intro and create a header image.
Copilot can create images from scratch or around uploaded photos through a connection with Designer, powered by the latest Dalle 3 imaging software. The Designer app, which was introduced in October 2022, includes some new AI features that can help create graphics for events marketing.
When it’s time to travel for a business event, the company showed Microsoft 365 Chat can help plan and complete bookings.
The tool can connect with a company’s travel booking system — in this case, it was the Cytric Easy platform owned by Amadeus.
Through that connection, the user can ask the chatbot to find a flight that matches certain requirements. It responds with flight options, and the user can complete the booking within the same Microsoft 365 Chat platform. If a coworker had already shared an itinerary via email, the user can also ask the chatbot to find a flight that matches that itinerary.
(See an example of the business travel capability starting at 37:38 in this video.)
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Tags: artificial intelligence, business travel, chatgpt, corporate travel, event planners, generative ai, meeting planners, meetings and events, microsoft, online travel, online travel newsletter, OpenAi, tourism, trip planning
Photo credit: Microsoft is integrating the Copilot AI assistant across all of its products. efes / Wikimedia Commons