Artificial intelligence is seemingly becoming ubiquitous in the travel industry, but there are many hurdles that can trip up companies looking to boost business through the booming technology.
Skift Global Forum was held in New York City on September 26-28, 2023. Read coverage of the event at the link below.
Corporate travel agency Navan, like many other travel brands, is bullish on the potential of artificial intelligence to revolutionize the travel industry. But its co-founder and CEO, Ariel Cohen, warns travel companies looking to launch a generative AI-powered tool that the process is far from simple.
“First, you need to have the team,” Cohen told moderator Seth Borko, Skift Senior Research Analyst, at the Skift Global Forum in New York City on Wednesday.
“It’s not easy to have the team. I think that sometimes people are confusing IT with engineering. The fact that you have an IT team that can integrate some stuff and develop some stuff does not mean you can hire an AI engineer.”
Cohen also acknowledged that he’s seen a labor shortage for AI engineers.
“It is really, really heard,” he said about hiring. “They will not come to work for you just for the money. They will need to see what you’re doing is cutting edge.”
Cohen acknowledged technology could affect workers. “It’s scary because a lot of jobs will not be relevant. But I think a lot of jobs will be created,” Cohen said.
Navan’s Latest Update
Meanwhile, Cohen announced at the Forum that Navan was launching Hotel Concierge by Ava, the latest in a series of updates to its traveler-facing chatbot Ava. Cohen said the upgraded chatbot can better provide travelers personalized recommendations about hotels they’re most interesting in booking.
“It’s not like we are looking (for) if the hotel has a restaurant or a gym. It’s not interesting. It’s about the type of gym, the type of restaurant that you usually like to go to,” Cohen said, noting that Ava gathers information from a user’s past chats and reviews.
Cohen added that Hotel Concierge by Ava could compare the hotels it recommends for travelers as well as book the one it chooses.
Skift Global Forum 2023 Coverage
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Photo credit: Navan CEO and co-founder Ariel Cohen and Seth Borko in discussion at the Skift Global Forum in New York Skift