Personalization + ChatGPT = Holy Grail in customer intentBy Terry Jones | June 28, 2023Share A report from sister publication PhocusWire on how ChatGPT is going to change travel search for the better, and how adding personalization will make it so. (Editor’s note: this report first appeared on PhocusWire)Twenty-seven years into travel on the internet I am constantly amazed by the lack of progress in travel personalization.Loyalty programs should have led to personalization, but in my experience simply have not been used that way.Enter ChatGPT. … Perhaps now companies can combine what they know about customers, what data they can purchase about their customers, along with what customers tell them in chat to truly personalize search results and even the products themselves.Natural language search is a wonderful window into customer intent.“I want to go to the Caribbean this March to celebrate my anniversary. I need a deluxe hotel with great golf and spa.”Now we know so much more than destination and dates; we know it’s going to be a romantic vacation, so we can customize our resort choice and images. We know the customer wants golf and spa, so we can show the right hotel, images and reviews.And while we can train language models to ferret out the meaning of words like cozy and comfortable and relate them to similar words in a hotel’s description, other concepts are harder.What does “deluxe” mean to her? Interpreting words can be tricky.But what if we actually used the data we have stored in our dusty loyalty warehouse?We might know what brand of hotel she’d selected in the past, what room category she’d chosen, what rate she’d paid and that combined with her words of intent could lead us to exactly the right property and convince her to hit the buy button.We might also know her favorite airline, class and seat, what activities she’d purchased and more, leading to increased revenue.There is a rich trove of data from the chat that we can save in our personalization database. We now know her anniversary date and can use it next year.Think of all you could capture from a chat and use next to personalize search, emails and products:* The why - anniversary, birthday, fishing, tours of ruins, ski, surf, golf …* The budget* The time - spring break …* The type - cozy, modern, upscale …And much, much more.Capturing intent can lead to personalization beyond just the shopping and buying process.What if that intent was stored in the booking and was displayed on the hotel point of sale system at check-in or even sent to the property before the guest arrived?We might welcome our guests to their anniversary visit or provide an in-room amenity.Or if the property knew they were coming for surfing, scuba or fishing, could we be magically helpful during their stay?Sometimes I think hotels imagine that we “want” to stay at their property, and yet it’s usually we “have” to stay at their property to accomplish our vacation goals, be they skiing, castle exploring or horseback riding. Knowing more about our intent and more about our travel habits will help connect the traveler to their travel goals and the right property.I’m an official senior citizen. If my travel site knew that, along with my intent, they might not suggest hotels where reviewers raved about the non-stop rooftop bar music, but might recommend it to my son!ChatGPT is going to change travel search for the better, and more people are learning to “speak prompt” every day. Adding personalization will make it wonderful.Terry Jones was founder of Travelocity, founding chairman of Kayak and co-founder of WayblazerThe opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel Investment Today or Northstar Travel Group and its affiliated companies.