There's so much excitement and anticipation around messaging and artificial intelligence that Priceline and Expedia CEOs' remarks remind us that this emerging technology is still too new to gauge regarding potential success. Still, CEOs of both companies seem pleased with how messaging has performed so far.
According to Kayak's CEO, Airbnb is preventing traditional hotels from implementing surge prices, and Brexit is impacting tourism far more than recent acts of terrorism.
Though bots still aren't completely frictionless and can't think like a human (yet), they certainly offer a way for consumers to have a conversation with a brand during the booking process that wasn't possible before. And it is potentially a very cheap channel for the brands.
Lola wants to use mobile messaging, and an artificial intelligence system that learns traveler preferences, to reinvent how consumers book travel using a travel agent. Everyone else wants to cut travel agents out. Lola wants to deal them in.
Google tends to favor digital products over human-facing services but it's possible that a new "travel assistant app" could blend the two. Then again, they've tried this before.
Engineering geeks like big, tough problems and the coders at Kayak are attempting to take on the challenges of comparing diverse restaurants in a city and also the attributes of this hop-on hop-off Beverly Hills tour versus a competitor's. And you thought comparing various flights with bag fees was tough?
Give Kayak credit for going where the users are and building a travel-search app on top of Slack. Is Slack the optimum way to plan a trip? Hardly. But there will be some users, who are chatting at the office in Slack all day, who could find it convenient. Messaging apps such as WhatsApp would be fertile ground as well.
Kayak apparently got cute in trying to use the phrase "Hotel for tonight" in its apps and it appears as though HotelTonight prevailed in a trademark flap. Now they've partnered up as HotelTonight is selling through Kayak in a bid to trim costs.
Priceline's and Expedia's respective selling and marketing spend on a global scale shows why Priceline remains on top despite all of Expedia's acquisitions. Priceline does it much more efficiently, getting a lot more bang for a buck.
There will be multiple winners in flight metasearch and Skyscanner, a relatively smaller player in the scheme of things, has the tech acumen and potential to be one of them. However, the company realizes it will need a merger/acquisition or an IPO to get headed toward where it ultimately wants to go.