What Travel’s Best AI Experts Told Us Yesterday

Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at the current state of hotel tech, the trouble with trip-planning apps, and Marriott’s tech transformation.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, June 5. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Hotel tech has a long way to go before it can satisfy travelers’ demands, two executives said at the Skift Data + AI Summit in New York on Tuesday, writes Reporter Christiana Sciaudone.

Chris Hemmeter, managing director at Thayer Ventures, and Kurien Jacob, partner and managing director of Highgate Technology Ventures, explained how hotel tech needs to evolve. Jacob noted how the travel industry is behind tech-wise – “room assignment can be automated,” he said.  Hemmeter said the hospitality industry has been playing catch up while the traveler has changed. 

Next, large numbers of travelers are making plans for the summer. But one thing many of them won’t be doing is using trip-planning apps, writes Sciaudone.

Gilad Berenstein, founder of investment firm Brook Bay Capital, said the travel industry hasn’t proven there’s a lot of consumer demand for a trip-planning app. He noted that Google Maps and Google Calendar are the world’s most popular trip-planning tools. Skift Research found earlier this year that 78% of American travelers haven’t used ChatGPT or another AI-based app to plan a trip. 

As Sciaudone writes, one problem in the travel industry is the lack of shared information among potentially competing companies. Berenstein said the hotel industry in particular needs to be involved in the full journey.  

Finally, Marriott is looking to do more than sell hotel rooms. The hotel company wants to tap into generative AI to reinvent itself as a travel retailer that creates personalized experiences, writes Sciaudone. 

Marriott Executive Vice President Drew Pinto said at the Skift Data + AI Summit that the company is undergoing its largest-ever tech transformation. Sciaudone reports that Marriott is transitioning to Amadeus IT and “attribute-based booking,” in which customers will be able to personalize their stay. Pinto likened creating a personalized stay to building a Mr. Potato Head. 

Get more travel news at https://skift.com.

Presenter/Producer: Jane Alexander

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