OpenAI’s ChatGPT has shaken the travel industry with its integration plugins, specifically Expedia Group and Kayak. With a paid ChatGPT account, guests can now use an AI-powered chatbot to plan every step of their journey – from booking flights to reserving accommodations.
What does it mean for the industry of short-term rentals? Let’s discuss this in this article.
How ChatGPT plugins for Expedia and Kayak work
By installing the Expedia Group or Kayak ChatGPT plugin, travellers are now able to quickly and easily plan their next vacation. As they prompt a question about accommodation options, ChatGPT will provide exact variants for the trip with links to bookings.
These recommendations are personalized to users. ChatGPT can decide whether to call a plugin or handle a user’s query using its intrinsic knowledge.
As of May 2023, ChatGPT’s capability to bring out new information has been limited. So, plugins are built to help bridge this gap by supplying relevant data from Expedia and Kayak databases.
ChatGPT impact on trip planning and guest experience
Kayak’s ChatGPT plugin provides more conversational interactions to consumers with its search engine, while Expedia’s plugin allows users to book their flights, accommodations, and experiences directly through the platform.
ChatGPT has been integrated with several other companies, including OpenTable, Shopify, Instacart, Slack, Zapier and Klarna. So here are a few operations that become possible with ChatGPT plugins:
- Online shopping, price comparisons
- Book plane tickets, hotels and short-term rentals
- Book a table at a restaurant
- Seamless language translation
- Food delivery
- Gather competitor data
- Math computations
- Write and send emails
- Connect Zapier services
Envision a world in which AI takes care of the entire guest planning process, from booking flights and apartments to securing tables at nearby restaurants. Not only that, but it also provides compatibility with various payment systems!
Instead of spending hours on an OTA website comparing two apartments and noting amenities in mind, users can now ask quickly in the chat and receive powerful answers for each option.
Why hosts should care about ChatGPT?
OpenAI’s chatbot made history after an impressive one-week launch, with more than 1 million users already utilizing the platform since November 2022. This most technologically advanced segment of the global population is widely utilizing gadgets.
With more and more people relying on AI-driven assistance for their day-to-day tasks, the need to adjust to this new landscape is becoming increasingly urgent.
Instead of Googling, many users already prefer to get answers in the chat. This is also going to happen with online travel agencies like Airbnb.
Therefore, ChatGPT plugins (as well as other AI plugins from the rivals) for short-term rental should not be overlooked – they are invaluable initiatives that serve as the foundation of new user habits on the internet.
ChatGPT technical sidenote
The base technology of ChatGPT is called GPT or the generative pre-trained transformer developed by OpenAI. The 2023 version is called GPT-4 which came to substitute GPT-3.5. With this intellectual framework, ChatGPT is considered one of the most powerful AI tools available right now.
There are other brands that build upon GPT. For example, YouChat (you.com) is using GPT-3.5 model and is also plagued by the same limitations of the older ChatGPT version (inaccurate responses about events that occurred after 2021).
What I as a host can do about ChatGPT plugins?
As of May 2023, not so much. First, these plugins started inside ChatGPT Plus accounts. Next comes plans to integrate AI intelligence inside the big platforms. There is a waiting list for the integration of the new ChatGPT plugins where everybody can apply.
Probably the most actionable tip for hosts would be to concentrate on their listings and to optimize as much as possible for intelligence algorithms:
- listings’ descriptions
- listings’ photographs
- updated amenities
- flexible cancellation policies
More tips on optimization can be read in our joint material with Booking.com on 2023 short-term rentals trends for hosts.
As a host, you can use the power of ChatGPT to produce content like emails, property descriptions, make translations, etc. This doesn’t mean you should give it all to robots. No!
At the 2023 Booking.com Click Conference, one of the key takeaways was that customers respond positively to a personalized approach to listing content. So, give AI-generated texts a human touch and then publish them to online travel agencies.
Expedia launches in-app chat powered by ChatGPT
Expedia Group announced in early April 2023 that they have integrated ChatGPT into their iOS app. This will enable users to ask personalized questions and book Expedia experiences through the app, as we described above.
Travel planning just got easier in the @Expedia app, thanks to the iOS beta launch of a new experience powered by #ChatGPT. See how Expedia members can start an open-ended conversation to get inspired for their next trip: https://t.co/qpMiaYxi9d pic.twitter.com/ddDzUgCigc
— Expedia Group (@ExpediaGroup) April 4, 2023
AI future of vacation rentals
While ChatGPT is currently available to Plus subscribers, it plans to roll out more plugins in the future. And competitors are not sitting aside.
Expedia Group is the big umbrella brand and Kayak is a part of Booking.com ecosystem. So, it’s reasonable to presume that after these pilot plugins, other products would rapidly adopt similar technology.
The Expedia Group is a powerhouse of trusted brands, including VRBO, Expedia, Hotels.com, Trivago, Travelocity, Cheaptickets, Orbitz and Carrentals.com.
Kayak is part of Booking Holdings Inc. – the world’s leading company for online travel-related services including Booking.com, Agoda, Rentalcars.com and Opentable.
The growing significance of AI in the travel industry
Big travel companies are dedicating resources to AI projects that focus on chatbots and real-time inventory data. This will change the speed and accuracy of travel bookings. Although the tools are not yet that useful, the focus is on perfecting them and gathering data.
Some researchers identify at least four significant use cases for generative AI in the travel industry:
- Customer service: the enhanced chatbot experience can provide more useful information for customers.
- Code development: better and faster code with the help of AI, resulting in hundreds of millions in annual savings.
- Review management: AI can evaluate customer sentiment and help travel businesses respond to online reviews.
- Travel advertising: AI’s ability to summarize and present information in an accessible way will revolutionise the guest search experience and the underlying performance marketing landscape.
Some more AI projects that deserve closer monitoring:
- Google Sparrow – claimed to be a killer of ChatGPT. Why not? With Google data in hand, one can assume that this model can outsmart ChatGPT.
- Microsoft’s Bing AI – a chat also powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 model (latest).
- Microsoft’s Copilot – enterprise feature in Microsoft 365.
- Google Bard – AI-chat currently with limited availability.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine a potential integration of AI-photo editing tool with Airbnb. Such a powerful combination would undoubtedly revolutionise the vacation rentals industry!