The Thing About Artificial Intelligence: Column

Confession time: When I couldn’t think of what to write about for this month’s column, I turned to ChatGPT. I asked it for some topics pertaining to the travel industry that might relate to our audience, hoping something would inspire me. And then it dawned on me, it was just that: Turning to artificial intelligence for a little help.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how busy you are. In fact, that’s what I’m told from nearly every advisor I speak to. In the recent “Affluent Sentiment Survey” fielded by Luxury Travel Advisor, advisors wrote in that they’re closing a record number of bookings; that they’re receiving more referrals and requests than last year; and that they’re limiting the number of clients they’re working with (and setting a minimum spend) to really focus on those clients that value their time and expertise. With demand so high, time management is more crucial than ever. By optimizing your efficiency, you can free up valuable hours, which you can then devote to what makes you shine: Specializing in your clients and crafting the bespoke itineraries of their dreams.

Enter, AI

Matt Turner in Chicago
Matt Turner's top tip for Chicago is a Chicago River Architecture Tour to learn a bit about the city's history alongside impressive views. (Photo by Matt Turner)

Programs like ChatGPT or can assist you in myriad ways — some a bit simpler to grasp and some that may take more time and tinkering to figure out. Christine Vincent, business technology manager at TRAVELSAVERS, suggested using AI to create social media or blog posts, as well as a way to write email marketing. All you need to do is create a prompt that explains what you would like the AI to create (say, a social media post) and provide it with some information (you’re just back from safari and have all this wonderful firsthand experience with the outfitter); you can even set the tone (inspirational, you want). Out comes an inspirational and informative Facebook post ready to share online. Of course, you can edit it or provide feedback to have the AI rework the post.

Vincent also said that you can use ChatGPT, for instance, to create a persona of a person who’s new to cruising and what holdups they might have about sailing. You could then use this information to create email copy that targets this demographic and use it in your marketing.

If you have a client staying at the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, you can have AI create a spreadsheet with recommendations for places to grab breakfast nearby. You can have Column A list the name of the restaurant, B the hours, C the price range, D the distance from the hotel and E something cool about the place that a traveler would like to know. Whereas you could open Google Maps plug in the “breakfast restaurants” prompt, search the area, browse the photos and reviews, ChatGPT would have the spreadsheet created before you even got to the second café. Let the technology do the dirty work, so you can focus on the bigger picture.

If you’re looking to go more in depth, artificial intelligence can also help you analyze customer preferences, travel history and interests as well as booking patterns and emerging trends to help you tailor your offerings, identify popular destinations and provide more relevant recommendations to your clients. In fact, many OTAs are looking to implement AI in this manner, attempting to mimic the services offered by travel advisors. But just how OTAs themselves were not a threat to luxury travel advisors, their new AI software will not either, as they’re missing the one thing you will always have: The human touch.

So, while AI can certainly take a lot off your plate, it can’t serve as a replacement for you. As Vincent told us, AI will be a supplement, rather than a substitute, for travel advisors.

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