image of a robot reflecting growing influence of conversational bots and potential impact for hotel guest search experience

In late November 2022, OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT to the world, calling it a trained model that interacts in a conversational way.

NB: This is an article from GuestCentric

Heads up, this is not an article about ChatGPT. It’s an article about how conversational bots based on Large Language Models (LLMs) can shape the future of hotel distribution and the hospitality industry.

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Unlike many other technologies, this is a breakthrough that virtually everybody can understand and see many uses, a key one being online search. It’s simpler to pose a question and get a straight answer, rather than browse through different websites looking for that specific piece of information that we need.

If what ChatGPT shows us is a glimpse of a not-too-distant reality, where we will have conversational bots helping us, it can indeed change the way we search for information. And one of the things we search for information about is hotels.

How could Conversational Bots influence the Guest Search Experience?

When researching destinations and accommodation options, we conduct the search in an aspirational way until we have a shortlist, or at least a more precise idea of the hotel where we want to stay. At this stage, we start looking for reviews and doing some comparisons to make a decision. Soon, we will probably have bots helping us do these tasks.

I personally don’t think that a Bot helping me complete a reservation on a hotel website improves my experience. Typically, I prefer to just go to the Booking Engine (BE), do my own exploration and make a decision.

But, if you tell me that conversing with a bot can help me decide through hundreds of hotels at a specific location, that could be a game changer. If we can chat about it, and I can tell the bot what I don’t like about the suggestions presented and what I’m looking for until we reach a consensus where I would say: “That’s exactly what I was looking for!” – At that point, I could complete the reservation and do the payment online.

This may well be the future of online reservations. In the same way, ChatGPT and related technologies can disrupt Google, Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) can also be disrupted and replaced by the Conversational Online Travel Agents (COTAs), powered by AI. How we search and consume information will change forever, affecting how hotels distribute their inventory and sell their rooms.

Read rest of the article at GuestCentric