A person holds a tablet displaying a detailed 3D map with an orange location pin hovering above a lush green landscape. The map appears to be augmented reality, with light and particles emanating from the screen, representing AI search in the hospitality industry.

For decades, the standard hospitality search box has been a simple yet rigid tool, demanding users to conform to a limited set of inputs: date, location, number of guests. But what if searching for a hotel could be as intuitive as chatting with a well-informed travel agent? That’s where AI search comes in.

The era of conversational AI search, ignited by ChatGPT, promises to shatter these constraints. Some of the world’s largest hospitality brands have ambition for a Google-like free text AI search field (“show me hotels with a pool near Disneyland”). This signals a seismic shift in how we envision travel planning.

The Limits of Filters

Today’s travelers are forced into a predefined decision tree of filters and checkboxes. Search boxes may not even be on their radars when it comes to finding a place to crash, but that’s only because the results aren’t optimized for guests who crave a complete experience. What if you’re a foodie seeking a culinary adventure? Or a fitness fanatic wanting hotels with top-notch gyms?

The potential of AI search — and generative AI — is enormous. It can understand nuanced preferences and tailor results beyond just lodging. Imagine an AI search experience that factors in your desire for a yacht charter or a spa weekend alongside your hotel stay. Many hospitality brands today are capable of catering to these travel desires, and by doing so, can see increased revenue by keeping guests within the brand’s ecosystem for activities and experiences, instead of them searching externally.

With AI search, hospitality brands transform from just being a place to sleep to becoming a full-fledged experience curator.

The Transformation of the AI Search Bar

Lucidworks is at the forefront of understanding and delivering what is next for that search bar — in hospitality and across many industries. The role of specialized AI search technology cannot be understated in powering this transformation. Here’s where Lucidworks excels:

  • Supporting Customer Service: Lucidworks can unify knowledge management and enterprise search, aiding staff in finding the right answers to complex customer queries.
  • The Power of Personalization: Understanding customers’ post-pandemic desires is key. Lucidworks can connect data across the entire customer journey, from initial searches to on-site experiences, enabling highly personalized recommendations.

A conversational AI search experience should be attentive to more than just words. Even if a guest hasn’t typed a new search term, their clicks, filters, and the pages they spend time on provide invaluable hints about their interests. By subtly incorporating these actions into background prompts for the language model, we can tailor results and suggestions even more effectively.

The emphasis on context and implicit signals in conversational search brings a powerful new dimension to hospitality. Understanding the entirety of a guest’s journey is crucial. Think of the power of a search system that remembers your past preferences for hotels with spa services, and proactively suggests nearby yoga studios and healthy restaurants for your next trip.

This AI search revolution is incredibly exciting. I’m eager to see how the industry embraces this change and reimagines the entire travel experience, from inspiration to booking to in-destination activities.

Navigating Concerns and Challenges of AI Search

While the potential of AI search for hospitality is immense, it’s important to acknowledge and address the complexities involved in its implementation. Here are two key areas to consider:

Balancing Personalization and Privacy

Guests expect seamless, tailored experiences, but that hinges on collecting and analyzing their data. Hospitality brands must champion strong privacy policies and transparent communication about data use. This is essential for building trust and ensuring that guests feel comfortable with the level of personalization offered.

Overcoming Implementation Hurdles

Making the leap to AI-powered conversational search requires significant technical and organizational shifts. These include:

  • Data Integration: Advancing personalized search means connecting data from various sources: booking systems, loyalty programs, customer feedback, etc. This can be a complex process with legacy systems.
  • Model Fine-tuning: Large language models need to be fine-tuned specifically for the hospitality domain and a particular brand’s offerings. This involves curating training data, grounding responses in truth, and continuous refinement to ensure accuracy.
  • Shift in Mindset: Embracing conversational AI search may necessitate adjusting internal workflows and re-training staff. This shift requires proactive training and support to ensure smooth adoption.

Lucidworks is committed to helping hospitality brands navigate these challenges. Our solutions prioritize generative AI guardrails to ground responses in the truth. We believe that by thoughtfully addressing these concerns, the industry can safely unlock the incredible potential of AI search while maintaining customer trust and driving innovation.

The Future of AI Search Is Here

…and it’s about more than just finding a hotel.

We’re thinking outside the box (or the search bar) here: imagine a world where your search engine understands your love for culinary adventures, and suggests local cooking classes alongside hotel options. Or, knows you’re planning a family trip and proactively highlights kid-friendly attractions nearby.

What are your thoughts on this AI search evolution? How do you see AI transforming the way we plan — and experience — our travels? Connect with us on LinkedIn to share your thoughts!

About Lila Schoenfield

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