A singular thought stuck with me after the Skift Forum in NYC last month: the robots are here, and they’re inviting their friends. It was made abundantly clear, during those 2 days at the Lincoln Centre, that personalization through Artificial Intelligence and voice-based search will fundamentally change the way human beings search for, purchase, and experience travel.
The Forum, now in its third year, is essentially a “TED” for the travel industry. The speakers included founders and leaders from Priceline, Expedia, Google, Facebook, Marriott, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Bunkhouse Group, Standard Hotels, Generator Hostels, among many others. The Skift team did an amazing job putting it together; you should all come next year.
There was much talk of recent consolidation in the hotel industry, the $30B elephant in the room, and of course, a few customary jabs at the OTAs. It occurred to me that this was just a room full of people trying to determine what the traveller really wants. To that end, almost everyone that crossed the stage expressed a desire to leverage machine learning to not only discover what the traveller wants, but in the actual delivery as well.
AI will affect everything from our use of planes, trains, automobiles, buses, to booking dinner reservations at a stranger’s apartment, day trips with a local, or an interesting place to work while you’re on the road.