Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Hotels

Choice Hotels Tech Chief Sketches Path to Tapping Generative AI

9 months ago

Choice Hotels sees a potential in generative AI (artificial intelligence) to reshape the hotel sector, according to an interview chief information officer Brian Kirkland did on Bloomberg TV right before the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend.

“To be commercially viable, and to be something that really transforms how we do business, … we need to make sure that we can securely use it. So how do we get private data sets in there? How do we curate the answers to make sure that … the right answer is coming back that’s curated and accurate, and not based on old data? That’s something we’re talking about with some of our partners. When [that’s available], it will be transformative.”

—Brian Kirkland of Choice Hotels

Kirkland speculated that generative AI could help guests find answers faster about properties and help Choice Hotels franchisees to figure out the right type of business strategy or even the policies around how they run their business.

Full interview here:

UPDATE: The original post misspelled Brian Kirkland’s name. Apologies.

Short-Term Rentals

Hostaway Launches AI Tool For Property and Channel Managers

10 months ago

Hostaway, which offers property management software to vacation rentals, has launched a ChatGPT-powered artificial intelligence tool. 

All of its property managers and channel manager clients will have the option to use the tool to manage listings and increase bookings, by perfecting listings. 

The tool will match the tone of voice and professional style to each operators’ brand and audience to create brand consistency.

Travel companies are adding ChatGPT plugins to enhance travel planning and booking. Souce: Wikicommons

“We take pride in responding quickly to developments in technology and the wider travel industry,” Saber Kordestanchi, Hostaway co-founder and chief operating officer, said. “ AI is going to transform the experience of property managers as well as guests and this is just the first of many enhancements we expect to make.”

Last month, a property operations platform for short-term rentals Breezeway launched ChatGPT-powered artificial intelligence tools within its platform.Labeled as Assist AI, the tool will introduce a series of automation features including guest messaging, reservations, property profile and other data. 

Watch the short 10-minute video below as Skift CEO Rafat Ali explains how conversational AI boom will change travel search and booking. This is a follow-up on his first video for the new era of radical innovation in travel booking.

Online Travel

Yelp Taps Turbocharged AI to Improve Online Search

10 months ago

Yelp has for months been testing how it could use the latest generation of artificial intelligence (AI) without undermining the trust of the consumers who use it to find business listings. On Wednesday, the U.S.-based user-generated reviews company released an updated search interface based on these advances.

For instance, a search for places serving “breakfast” will no longer merely return listings with the specific word “breakfast” tagged or mentioned. It will now also highlight listings that mention relevant words, such as eggs and pancakes, said Craig Saldanha, chief product officer.

Yelp’s search does tricks like this by taking advantage of artificial intelligence (AI) and so-called large language models to help match consumers with the most relevant local businesses when they have a specific or nuanced need. It’s tapping technology similar to chatbot ChatGBT and other generative artificial intelligence programs.

“By leveraging these technologies to analyze the vast amounts of our user-generated content, in the future, we’ll be able to quickly, precisely, and succinctly summarize insights and provide personalized recommendations based on your search intent,” the company said.

The changes were among several others announced by Yelp on Wednesday.

Skift readers can get context by reading this month’s roundup on generative AI’s impact on the travel industry. Skift Research subscribers can learn more with the just-released report: Generative AI’s Impact on Travel.

Travel Technology

Testing ChatGPT Vs. Google Bard Using Travel Industry Buzzwords

11 months ago

“Can you write me lyrics of a new song about the travel industry buzzwords such as local, REVPAR, experiences, NDC, duty of care, AI, transformative travel, regenerative travel, overtourism, bleisure and revenge travel?”

Skift, always battle-testing the future of travel…

That was the prompt I gave to both ChatGPT (now about four months into its public life) and Google Bard (only one day into its public release), as a way to test the capabilities of the two AI chat agents that have captured the imagination of the globe. And the travel industry and various applications to come.

Not really the most scientific of tests but if any of them can navigate the travel industry buzzwords and put them into context and rhyme, that would be a win in itself. So here, the results of the test:

ChatGPT:

Verse 1: I’m packing up my bags, got a thirst for something new
The world’s a playground, there’s so much to pursue
I’m chasing down the buzzwords, the trends of the day
Got a checklist of experiences that I wanna play

Chorus: Local, REVPAR, transformative travel too
NDC, duty of care, AI, and regenerative views
Overtourism, bleisure, revenge travel’s on my mind
I’m a traveler on a mission, gotta leave it all behind

Verse 2:
I wanna be where the locals go, not the tourist traps
I wanna try the street food and feel the city’s pulse
I’m looking for that perfect balance, between work and play
Bleisure is the name of the game, gotta find my way

Chorus:
Local, REVPAR, transformative travel too
NDC, duty of care, AI, and regenerative views
Overtourism, bleisure, revenge travel’s on my mind
I’m a traveler on a mission, gotta leave it all behind

Verse 3:
I’m mindful of the impact, that my travels have
Regenerative travel’s what I’m looking for, gotta give back
I’m learning about the culture, the history and the art
Transformative travel’s my goal, gotta open up my heart

Chorus:
Local, REVPAR, transformative travel too
NDC, duty of care, AI, and regenerative views
Overtourism, bleisure, revenge travel’s on my mind
I’m a traveler on a mission, gotta leave it all behind

Verse 4:
But sometimes I just wanna let loose, let my hair down
Revenge travel’s what I need, gotta paint the town
I’ll party like it’s 2019, forget about my woes
Overtourism’s not my problem, gotta strike a pose

Chorus:
Local, REVPAR, transformative travel too
NDC, duty of care, AI, and regenerative views
Overtourism, bleisure, revenge travel’s on my mind
I’m a traveler on a mission, gotta leave it all behind

Outro:
I’m a traveler on a mission, gotta leave it all behind
Gotta chase those buzzwords, gotta see what I can find.

And now, Google Bard’s attempt:

(Verse 1)
I’m in the travel industry,
And I’m here to tell you about the buzzwords
That are all the rage these days.

Local is the new black,
REVPAR is the name of the game,
And experiences are what it’s all about.

NDC is the future of travel,
Duty of care is our responsibility,
And transformative travel is the way to go.

Regenerative travel is the way to heal the planet,
And overtourism is a real problem,
But AI can help us solve it.

Bleisure is the new way to work,
And revenge travel is the way to get back at the pandemic.

(Chorus)
So come on, let’s travel the world,
And experience all that it has to offer.

Let’s make a difference in the world,
And leave it a better place than we found it.

Let’s travel responsibly,
And make sure that we’re not contributing to the problem.

Let’s travel with a purpose,
And make sure that we’re making a difference.

(Verse 2)
The travel industry is a powerful force,
And we can use it to make a difference in the world.

So let’s get out there and explore,
And let’s make the most of this amazing planet.

(Chorus) So come on, let’s travel the world,
And experience all that it has to offer.

Let’s make a difference in the world,
And leave it a better place than we found it.

Let’s travel responsibly,
And make sure that we’re not contributing to the problem.

Let’s travel with a purpose,
And make sure that we’re making a difference.

My verdict: ChatGPT wins hands down, for rhyming, for being more playful AND putting the buzzwords into right context, in other words, more Skifty. Bard was more literal, boring and didn’t rhyme at all, in other words, like the other boring travel trades.

There it is, never accuse us of not worrying about the future of travel, you can now go about your day.

Travel Technology

Google Releases Bard, the Generative AI Rival to ChatGPT

12 months ago

Google is starting to release the chatbot Bard, its rival to ChatGPT.

Google made the announcement Tuesday morning in a blog post. Users in the U.S. and the U.K. can join a waitlist for access. The platform will be expanded to other countries and languages later. 

Both platforms are powered by generative AI, a model that enables the technology to provide new, original answers in response to a prompt. The technology has big implications for the travel industry, starting with travel planning and marketing. Booking platforms, like Booking.com and Expedia, are among other travel companies exploring how the technology can be used to power the future of travel planning and booking. 

The blog described Bard as “an experiment,” and the next step in the process is to gather user feedback. 

According to the post, the chatbot appears to operate similarly to ChatGPT, except that it responds to prompts with more than one answer. Bard is connected to Google search, so users can search for items suggested by Bard if they choose. Google also said that Bard gathers current data from the internet to power its answers, while ChatGPT is limited to data from 2021. 

The post said the company will be integrating the tech into the search platform in a deeper way in the future. 

Google last week said that it was opening access to its generative AI tech to developers so they may integrate it into their own platforms. 

The underlying technology of ChatGPT has been open to developers since the chatbot was released in November.

Online Travel

AI Wars Comes For Travel Planning, As Bing Relaunches Around ChatGPT

1 year ago

The Microsoft-owned also-ran search engine Bing has relaunched around conversational chatbot technology powered by ChatGPT, the new sensation owned by OpenAI. In an event today, the CEOs of Microsoft and OpenAI gave a demo of the new Bing, and it will be open to all in coming days. The refreshed Bing provides a chatbox with annotated AI answers — powered by ChatGPT– to the right side of traditional search results. 

The conversational chatbot will, among other types of queries, great simplify how people could search for travel planning on search engines, as this example on the right shows, where the question was: “I am planning a trip for our anniversary in September. What are some places we can go that are within a 3 hour flight from London Heathrow?”

The difference between current version of ChatGPT and this Bing version of it is annotations to the sources, and suggestions on further queries to add to the original one.

These type of instant answers to queries has tons of implications for the travel sector, as we have been exploring on Skift in detail in the last couple of months.

Another fascinating battle to watch: will this conversational chatbot query come to the traditional online booking players (OTAs and even brands’ own digital channels) and what will it to do the travel booking process?

Travel Technology

Software Developer Makes AI Travel Itinerary Tool

1 year ago

During her Christmas holiday, a software developer created a tool to generate and map travel itineraries using generative artificial intelligence (AI). 

The Australia-based developer, Katrin Schmid, posted on Linkedin about the tool she made, called Journeai. It is powered by the generative AI chatbot, ChatGPT, released last year by OpenAi, a San Francisco-based AI research lab that has gotten at least $2 billion in investment.  

This new subset of AI can generate a new, unique product based on specific rules it’s given, a big leap ahead of the limited way AI has historically used existing datasets to draw conclusions and make predictions. 

OpenAi’s ChatGPT can already create a personalized travel itinerary within seconds. The Journeai tool uses that capability and adds the interactive mapping component through Google Maps — showing how easy it can be to solve a notable issue with generative AI, which is the lack of details like time, date, and geolocation. 

Despite the bugs with generative AI that users continue to point out, this is an early example of how the technology is expected to shake up the travel industry, starting with travel marketing, travel agents, and tour operators. 

There is more to come. 

“By the end of the year, you won’t be able to tell the difference between human production and AI production,” said travel industry consultant Peter Syme in a recent interview with Skift

“Every single tourism business, from a hotel to a tour operator to the most prominent companies, has access to the same power from a content production point of view. Therefore, tour operators should adopt quickly and not lag to ensure the biggest advantage.”