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7 generative AI use cases for consumer travel


The world wrestles with the implications of generative artificial intelligence as the landscape evolves at breakneck speed, with new models arriving, new product launches popping up seemingly every day and an ecosystem of parallel services flourishing. 

While the interfaces for research, shopping and booking are the center of attention, several other use cases stand out on the consumer side. The following is an excerpt from Phocuswright’s travel research report From Buzzword to Bottom Line: Keeping Pace With Gen AI in Travel

Customer service 

Customer service has proven to be one of the top use cases of generative AI. For around a year, Expedia has been using generative AI to automate customer service call summaries, reducing costs, and Airbnb has been helping customer service agents navigate 70 different user policies. DataArt introduced a generative AI-powered chatbot as a first level of support for its client, an airline contact center. The chatbot resulted in a 30% reduction in the number of calls as well as minutes handled by agents per month, with average requests handled by the chatbot being resolved in only three minutes.

Review summaries  

Summarization is one of the most powerful uses of generative AI, as it can quickly read text and summarize it with high accuracy. Tripadvisor, with its vast trove of travel reviews, is using generative AI hotel summaries to help travelers extract the information most relevant to them. Other companies that have implemented review summaries include Expedia, Home2Go and MakeMyTrip.

 

Accessibility: Multimodal/translation  

While there are other methods for voice-to-text and translation, travel companies are beginning to include generative AI in the mix. MakeMyTrip is in the early stages of implementing voice-to-text translation, as well as hybrid interaction using voice and visual options, which they say is increasing conversion. 

Productivity  

The general productivity gains of generative AI tools should not be ignored by any company. There are many areas where employees can be easily trained to use generative AI to speed up internal processes.   

Internal operations  

Automating business operations can save both time and money, but travel companies are wrestling with which tasks should be trusted to AI, and to what extent. Internal use cases do not appear to have evolved drastically in the past year – they’ve mostly been refined. According to comments from Priceline CEO Brett Keller at the 2023 Phocuswright Conference, travelers’ chatbot conversations often reveal traveler concerns and needs that the company otherwise might not know. 

Corporate travel  

To date, leisure travel companies have been faster in integrating generative AI technology compared with corporate players. The caution among business leaders is likely due to the added responsibilities, including data confidentiality and duty of care, that come with hosting corporate clients. A couple of notable developments: In August 2023 Lufthansa launched Swifty, an AI assistant for business travel. And CWT added generative AI capabilities to its messaging service in January 2024, allowing users to have unscripted conversations with their virtual assistant. In March, SAP Concur incorporated generative AI search capabilities, allowing users to type queries in natural language. Expect to see more corporate applications in the coming year. 

Coding  

A major area of increased productivity is coding. Airbnb estimates that its employees, led by developers, could be 30% more productive in the short-to-medium term. Booking.com has reported early signs that using GenAI improves the productivity of its developers and is focused on further increasing efficiency. The potential impact is so great that Deets.com founder (and Kayak co-founder) Paul English argued at the November 2023 Phocuswright Conference that “Code is no longer the moat,” suggesting that a company with 10 engineers can now compete with a company with 1,000. 

Despite major advancements, the industry continues to navigate the practical application of GenAI, aiming to maximize return on investment. Consumer acceptance is still mixed, with usage remaining relatively low for the time being. As GenAI technologies evolve, the travel sector is poised to see significant changes in how services are marketed, sold and managed, making it crucial for companies to stay informed and adaptive to maintain competitiveness. 

Part of a content series that explores some of the most significant technology-driven trends that will influence travel distribution in 2024 and beyond, From Buzzword to Bottom Line: Keeping Pace With Gen AI in Travel answers the following key questions regarding industry interest in generative AI:

  • How has generative AI impacted the travel landscape since its launch?
  • What are the most impactful developments of the past 18 months?
  • What lessons have travel companies learned in this time period?
  • What are the key areas of generative AI to watch in the near term? 

    Learn more

    The Phocuswright Open Access research subscription offers the world’s most comprehensive library of global travel research and data visualization. You receive company-wide access to all of our syndicated material and interactive data, so your entire team can get the most up-to-date trends and information.





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