Travo Summit: Hotels fear AI could lead to over-reliance on OTAs

Travo Summit: Hotels fear AI could lead to over-reliance on OTAs

Hotels fear that the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) could make them over-reliant on OTAs (online travel agents).

Sam Turner, Hotelbeds’ global director of sales, said as much at the Travolution Summit when asked about the pros and cons of the burgeoning technology.

He said: “One thing hoteliers fear is dependency. They know that the large OTAs drive a lot of bookings for them, but they will be eager to understand more about upcoming disruptive companies that are not one of the same companies already dominating the marketplace.”

He also said hotels were keen to use AI themselves in order to automatically alter room rates to maximise revenue during peak times and reduce rates in low seasons.

He also said AI could help both tour operators and travel agents learn which destinations and hotels were on trend and gauge average prices for their customers and said Hotelbeds is investing in technology to help its partners with this information.

The bed bank gets three million calls to its customer service centre and year and more than two million emails from which it can harvest data.

He predicted that voice recognition would “dramatically change the way consumers interface” and help firms collect more data to use to help its partners.

But Turner, who admitted he is “not a techy”, said: “We have a huge amount of data and we’ve been trying to work out how to make it meaningful” adding: “Having a big pool of data is important but it’s about what you do with it that counts. Sometimes we get carried away with the technology and forget what we are trying to achieve. [Use of technology] needs to be driven by businesses to enhance their value proposition.”

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