Can travel companies keep up with rapidly evolving AI?

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The rapid ChatGPT update is an example of the rapid advancement of AI and how easily new work can be left in the dust.


Ever since OpenAI released the groundbreaking ChatGPT technology late last year, travel companies have been exploring how the latest developments in generative AI could transform the way they work.

Just three and a half months later, OpenAI released an update of the 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 in about the top 10 percent of students on the Uniform Bar Examination. The latest version called ChatGPT Plus requires a $20 monthly subscription for access.

With all the work that companies have done with the previous version of ChatGPT, the question now is what’s next for them, especially for startups that have devoted all their resources to developing products with this first version. And if major updates continue at this rate, how soon will it be before products made with old versions of the technology become obsolete and require a complete overhaul?

The application programming interface (API) for GPT-4 is not yet publicly available, but there is a waiting list. A few companies have access to the latest version, including Microsoft, which has invested billions of dollars in the company.

OpenAI is testing the updated technology with Be My Eyes, an app that aims to improve accessibility for blind and partially sighted people. With the image input feature, the updated app could “answer any question about that image and provide instant visual support for a variety of tasks,” Be My Eyes said in a blog post.

Based on the impact it is having on the potential of the technology, it’s easy to see how it could benefit the larger population, including travelers. Imagine being able to take a picture of a building or a neighborhood, for example, and get a detailed description of the history or events that took place there – the image input function theoretically paves the way for this.

“Imagine navigating an unfamiliar location on a train system, traveling to a foreign country whose language you do not speak, browsing websites and social media platforms, online shopping, and a host of other ways of which we know our community will help us identify — the possibilities are limitless and we’re just getting started,” the post reads.

With the rapid advancement of technology, the slow R&D approach taken by major travel companies may be the best method in the long run.

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

His comments echoed the stance of Rob Francis,’s chief technology officer. His counterpart at Expedia Group, Rathi Murthy, expressed a similar sentiment. So did a executive and others.

“I believe that 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 said. “However, there will be significant challenges. The problems of getting real-time data from myriad sources, processing it all into optimal solutions, and then acting quickly to benefit consumers will not be solved overnight. Still, this is just one area of ​​many we’re going to and the travel will be better when we get there.”

Some new Travel Tech products

Faye, a travel insurance start-up platform, has launched a portal designed to help travel consultants and agents sell and track travel insurance packages more easily.

Crewfare has released a product designed to help event attendees and staff book travel accommodation such as hotel rooms and transportation more easily. Crewfare has partnered with more than 3,000 hotels for more than 75 events scheduled to take place this year. The platform has sold more than 100,000 hotel rooms so far, according to the startup.

OTA Insight, which provides hospitality business intelligence, has released a platform that shows short-term rental and hotel prices for specific markets based on demand, occupancy and rates to help hoteliers make better pricing decisions.

Tech can’t solve the short-term contract worker shortage — yet

Skift shared more about the short-term rental labor shortage and how technology can – and can’t – help.

“I don’t see human workers disappearing from the picture in the next ten years. Robots can’t clean and maintain homes yet,” said Guy Westlake, founder of property management software company Lavanda.

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