Three ways generative AI is improving the travel industry

The travel industry – like much of the global community – is captivated by generative artificial intelligence.

As its place in the world of travel continues to unfold, experts gathered for a panel at the Phocuswright conference on “The Future of Travel” – a hint that it’s “generative”.

In a wide-ranging conversation about generative artificial intelligence and travel, Prashant Bhugra, head of travel for Microsoft, Brett Keller, CEO of Priceline, and Gilles Trantoul, vice president of product marketing and portfolio strategy for Amadeus, sat down with moderator Robert Cole, senior research accommodation and leisure travel analyst for Phocuswright.

Panelists focused on the opportunities that generative AI presents for the travel industry, highlighting a few that seem to have captivated the industry.

Human conversation makes it easy to answer travel inquiries

Part of the appeal of AI-powered generative chatbots is their ability to hold a human conversation.

“So you can come to us as if you believe you have a person before you,” Trantoul said. “And it has a direct impact on the inspiration phase, assisted booking and partly for service when it comes to how to ask questions or you can actually educate someone.”

Bhugra agreed that this technology’s ability to interact as if it were the user’s “co-pilot” is quite transformative.

“I feel like the natural language aspect of generative AI … the ability it gives you to just speak into the interface and ask for what you need, and you don’t actually have to type in like a one-word, two-word query that normally have done on search engines or even on other sites,” Bhugra said. “So that in itself is pretty transformative.”

This capability simplifies customer service to some extent.

Employee productivity can benefit from generative AI

Generative AI can also significantly ease the workflow for developers and increase productivity, Bhugra said.

“The developer productivity aspect is also phenomenal,” he said. “The ability to help developers become more productive and efficient is something I’m pretty amazed by. The aspect of simply doing all kinds of complex tasks – like even if you want to go to a destination and you want to compare two destinations or you want to compare hotels, that’s a lot of work that you might have to do manually. I think you can count on GenAI to help you with these tasks and actually get them done very quickly.

Keller pitched in to increase efficiency.

“GenAI really democratizes that for anyone, any website, any product, any service, whether you have two employees or know thousands of employees, and that’s what I love about it,” he said.

Generative AI removes barriers to travel

Generative AI also has the potential to help break down language barriers, making travel more universal, according to Bhugra.

“You’re going to be talking to companies … that may not be in your language when you’re at a destination,” he said, noting that generative AI enables faster communication, faster task completion — even if you’re not working in your native language. “GenAI can actually help … from speech recognition, basically converting to the native language, doing the task, getting a response and then text-to-speech, going back, back to you.”

The group further touched on affordability, customer care, as well as their concerns about emerging technologies.

Check out their full conversation below.

The future of travel is generative with Microsoft, Priceline & Amadeus: The Phocuswright Conference

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