Can Travel Companies Keep Up With Fast-Advancing AI?

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ChatGPT’s rapid update exemplifies the rapid advancement of AI and how easily new work can be left in the dust.

Justin Dawes

Since OpenAI launched revolutionary ChatGPT technology late last year, travel agencies have been exploring how the latest developments in generative AI could change the way they operate.

Only three and a half months later, OpenAI posted an update technology called GPT-4. Among several notable updates, the latest version of ChatGPT can accept images, not just text, and describe them in detail. It can also score roughly the top 10% of students on the Uniform Bar Examination. The latest version, called ChatGPT Plus, requires a $20 monthly subscription to access.

With all the work businesses have done with the previous version of ChatGPT, the question now is what’s next for them, especially for startups who devoted all their resources to the creation of products using this first version. And if major updates continue at this rate, how long before products made with older versions of the technology become obsolete and need to be completely redesigned?

The Application Programming Interface (API) for GPT-4 is Not yet accessible to the public, but there is a waiting list. Some companies have access to the latest version, including Microsoftwho has invested billions of dollars in the company.

OpenAI is testing the updated technology with Be My Eyes, an app that aims to increase accessibility for blind and visually impaired people. With image input capability, the updated app could “answer any question about that image and provide instant visual assistance for a wide variety of tasks”, Be My Eyes said in a blog post.

Based on the implications it has had on the technology’s potential, it’s easy to see how it could benefit the entire population, including travelers. Imagine being able to take a picture of a building or neighborhood, for example, and get a detailed description of the history or events taking place there – the image input capability paves the way for this, theoretically.

“Imagine navigating a rail system in an unfamiliar place, traveling to a foreign country whose language you don’t speak, browsing websites and social media platforms, shopping online, and a host of other ways you we know our community will help us identify – the possibilities are limitless, and we’re just getting started,” the post said.

With the rapid advances in technology, the slow pace of research and development adopted by major travel companies may be the best method in the long run.

Glenn Foge, CEO of Booking Holdings, highlighted the company’s approach in a recent Linkedin post that talked about the technology’s potential and acknowledged its shortcomings.

His comments sounded like position by Rob Francis, Chief Technology Officer of His counterpart at Expedia Group, Rathi Murthy, made similar comments. Just like a executive and others.

“I believe generative AI and other technologies will play a key role in this new world of travel, and many of us in the travel industry are investing right now to lay the groundwork,” Foge declared. “However, there will be significant challenges. The problems of how to obtain real-time data from countless sources, process them all to arrive at optimal solutions, and then act quickly to benefit consumers will not be solved overnight. However, this is only one area, among many others, where we are going, and travel will be better when we arrive.

Some new Travel Tech products

faya travel insurance startup platform, released a portal to help advisors and travel agents sell and track travel insurance packages more easily.

Crew rate released a product to help event attendees and workers book travel accommodations like hotel rooms and transportation more easily. Crewfare has partnered with over 3,000 hotels for over 75 events scheduled this year. The platform has sold more than 100,000 hotel rooms so far, the startup said.

Overview OTAwhich offers economic intelligence services in the hotel sector, has published a platform which shows short-term rental and hotel pricing for specific markets based on demand, occupancy and rates, intended to help hoteliers make better pricing decisions.

Tech can’t solve the short-term rental labor shortage — yet

Change covered more about the labor shortage in short-term rentals and how technology can — and can’t — help.

“I don’t see human workers coming off the board for at least ten years. Robots can’t clean and maintain apartments yet,” said Guy Westlake, founder of property management software company Lavanda.

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