HSMAI’s Curate 2023 Recap: Demystifying AI

Our November events in Long Beach confirmed that we must address AI in hospitality. Curate 2023: Demystifying AI aimed to do just that. Read our session recaps offering key insights and thought-provoking highlights from the innovative discussions and transformative ideas that emerged from this stimulating day. 

Curate is an exclusive benefit for Organizational Member companies of HSMAI.

Curate 2023 Session Recap: Demystifying AI 

Ben Heller, Google, kicked off HSMAI’s 2023 Curate Executive Insights Forum with a session focused on demystifying AI. Ben started off by walking participants through how the current explosion of generative AI fits within the history of AI and machine learning.    


The three reasons he thinks everyone is excited about gen AI:  

  1. Applicability 
  2. Workforce Enhancements 
  3. Operational Efficiencies  

In one of the most photographed slides of the session, Ben shared the applications of AI internally and externally and in visual and writing work. He cautioned the audience not to panic, however, but to take the time to seek out the effective solutions that exist.  


In his discussion of content creation, it was clear that gen AI wouldn’t replace human creativity but augment it and eliminate some of the drudgery of tasks. He also shared how AI can improve organizational knowledge management.  

One of the biggest takeaways from Ben’s presentation was the use of generative AI to speed, scale, and simplify creating and delivering personalized, targeted content. 73% of shoppers expect brands to know their preferences, and that “Hyper personalized branding is a reality today through use of AI.”  

Take a look at his slides for more.   


The Current State 

During the current state session, we heard from four industry leaders that have experimented with AI in their organizations from creating new chatbots, to personalization, content creation, and customer service. Felix B. Laboy, Executive at Shift Digital moderated the session and Q&A. He opened the session discussing the history of AI within hospitality. “I think when we’re five years from now, 10 years from now, we’re going to look back and see this as an explosion in the use of AI.”  Read on for highlights or visit the slides for further information. 

Club Quarters winning AI machine learning strategy to boost direct bookings 

Presented by Mercedes Blanco, Chief Partnerships Officer, The Hotels Network  

Situation – Pivoting focus from business to leisure and attracting new guests that were visiting their destination cities and book direct.  

Objective/Strategy – Use a AI-machine learning algorithm with A/B test to validate power and cost-effectiveness of technology.   

Solution – Use machine learning to understand user behavior and personalize the website experience by automatically presenting the best content and offers for that use.   

Results – 17.2% increase in bookings versus those who did not in the control group and $46K net incremental revenue driven by using Predictive Personalization.  

Maximizing AI Powered Service Insights & Experiences  

Presented by Jacqueline Nunley, Industry Advisor Travel & Hospitality, Salesforce 

Situation – Disconnected data caused by a reliance on manual processes and insufficient analytical tools obscured the root cause of customer dissatisfaction.   

Objective/Strategy – Pinpoint the root cause of cases to improve issue resolution and accountability. Use case insights to train staff.    

 Solution – A connected data cloud that offers a 360 view of customers.  

Results – 30% increase in case resolution and 15% increase in retention rate.  

Use of AI in Digital Marketing 

Presented by Tammie Carlisle, Head of Hospitality, Milestone 

Situation – How to improve content velocity affordably  

Objective/Strategy – Use sophisticated prompt engineering to generate unique content.  

Solution –  Visual search optimization of property images using Google Vision API 

Results – 15% increase in YOY impressions, 48% increase in organic YOY sessions, and 702% increase in image search impressions.  

The Atlantis AI Chatbot  

Presented by Isaac Gerstenzang, Vice President Digital Marketing & CRM, Atlantis Paradise Island 

Situation – Introducing a virtual assistant chatbot to improve conversions by answering questions and taking friction out of the booking process. 

Objective/Strategy – Our ultimate objective, to streamline customer interactions, save them time and provide a seamless experience while reducing call volume for simple questions.​ 

Solution – Using the chatbot, provide real-time responses to customer inquiries, while also returning relevant pages that match the conversation. 

Results – TBD, but learning includes understanding how AI systems like Google Bard or ChatGPT will be crawling the brand website and serving up content to their users.  

A Legal Perspective 

Erin Snodgrass, Of Counsel at Foster Garvey, a specialist in travel industry privacy and data security compliance issues, added some gravity to the day with her mini session on legal implications of AI. 

7 Takeaways:  

  1. While Sales and Marketing will be at the forefront, make sure you are partnering with legal early on.  
  2. The goal is safe, compliant, and efficient AI usage.  
  3. AI chatbots should comply with data laws, inform users about data usage and seek active permission, and ensure users know they are interacting with a bot.  
  4. For AI powered CMS and content creation, ensure accurate and non-biased data feeds the AI. know where your content is coming from and ensure appropriate usage rights, and mask or anonymize and PII during content optimization.  
  5. When using AI for customer insights, adhere to agreements applicable to data and terms of service, avoid unintentional bias and discrimination in AI analysis, and regular review to ensure AI tool accuracy and relevance.  
  6. In personalization always inform guests, use the least amount of data possible, and strive for balance between personalization and privacy.  
  7. Embrace the potential but look through an ethical lens. 

Check out all of Erin’s slides, here

The Framework and Roadmap 

Jessica Jarvis, ZS, came to the stage in the afternoon to present and facilitate a working session: The Framework and Roadmap. Jessica opened with sharing a few slides (found here) to prepare for the working session. She described the promise of gen AI to generate high-quality text, images, speech, music, video and code virtually indistinguishable from human-generated content.  

She introduced three key areas where gen AI is advancing our power to leverage unstructured data:  

  1. Business intelligence & reporting 
  2. Competitor intelligence 
  3. Recommendation engines 

Jessica offered a framework that addresses the questions of risks and how to prioritize use cases, of which there are thousands.  

If you’d like to recreate the experience, work through the templates found in her slides – available exclusively to HSMAI organizational members.  And we’ll leave you with this piece of inspiration from Jessica, “The potential of generative AI is in what it can create. It opens a world of new possibilities.”  

The Leadership 

The capstone of Curate was given by travel and hospitality icon, Terrel Jones, founding Chairman of Kayak.com. The session explored the leadership needed to innovate. Terry shared that there is an AI for every industry and in every department in your company.  

Highlights from the session include:   

  • Generative AI can give you advice. 
  • Learning computers are worth more when it’s old than when it’s new! 
  • 90% of the world data was created in the last three years – we are drowning in data and AI systems can make sense of it.  
  • If big data is the oil of the 21st century, than AI is the refinery.  
  • AI is the new UI. 
  • AI can give us richer output and better answers. 
  • Conversational commerce using AI turns shoppers into consumers.  
  • Experience disruptors change how we buy and use – more speed and less capital.  
  • You’ve got to experiment – and it’s not an experiment if you know the outcome! 
  • One persistent person can make all the difference.  

Terry suggested to get started:  

  • Get your data foundations right.  
  • Think beyond the tech – ethics, privacy, security, etc.  
  • Upskill yourself and your team.
  • Start considering use cases.  

For leaders considering innovating with AI, remember, “If you’re not being disruptive, you’re going to be disrupted.” 

For more, check out his slides.  

Categories: Marketing
Insight Type: Articles