Priceline’s Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and ‘Penny’ AI
Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Priceline Aims to Make Travel Planning Effortless
Priceline is on a mission to transform the way people plan and book travel. As one of the pioneers of online travel booking, Priceline recognizes that consumer expectations have evolved. Today's travelers want travel planning to be easy, flexible and personalized.
To deliver on this vision, Priceline is focused on using technology and data to create a more streamlined booking experience. One way they are accomplishing this is by expanding their artificial intelligence capabilities. For example, Priceline's AI-powered chatbot "Penny" can quickly answer common pre-trip questions and provide customized recommendations.
Priceline is also enriching its partnerships with airlines and hotels to provide more value to loyalty program members. This includes allowing members to earn and redeem points across Priceline's family of brands. According to CEO Brett Keller, "Our goal is to reward loyal customers in a way no other online travel company does."
Additionally, Priceline is improving the search experience by enabling travelers to filter results by cabin type, hotel star ratings and amenities. This level of customization helps pinpoint options that match unique travel preferences. Priceline is even beta testing predictive search technology that will proactively suggest relevant flight and hotel options based on past behavior before travelers start typing.
To further streamline trip planning, Priceline is expanding its price tracking capabilities. This includes notifying customers via email or push notification when airfare or hotel rates drop on flights and hotels they have searched. Priceline has also boosted its price prediction engine to provide insights on the best time to book.
Priceline's overarching aim is to shift from being just another OTA to a true travel advisor. As Keller explains, "We want to guide customers through the entire journey - from inspiration to post-trip. Our role is to simplify travel planning so consumers can spend less time researching and more time enjoying their trips."
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- Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Priceline Aims to Make Travel Planning Effortless
- Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - 'Penny' AI to Revolutionize Customer Service
- Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - New Partnerships Expand Priceline's Global Reach
- Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Sustainability Becomes Central to Company Values
- Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Priceline Bets on Continued Domestic Travel Growth
- Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - International Travel Expected to Rebound in 2024
- Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Loyalty Programs to Offer More Value and Flexibility
- Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Priceline Pursues Tech and Marketing Innovations
Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - 'Penny' AI to Revolutionize Customer Service
Priceline's new AI-powered chatbot "Penny" aims to transform customer service in the travel industry. This virtual assistant can field common pre-trip questions, provide personalized recommendations, and even complete bookings. According to Priceline, Penny will enable customers to get quick answers without having to call or email a human agent.
Penny utilizes natural language processing and machine learning to understand context and intent. Over time, it will continue to learn based on interactions, improving its ability to deliver accurate responses. Priceline spent over two years developing Penny to ensure it captures the nuances of travel planning.
During testing, Penny has impressed with its conversational ability. When asked about booking a tropical vacation package, it asked clarifying questions about budget, travel dates and interests before suggesting relevant options complete with photos. Penny also knew to recommend travel insurance when a customer mentioned an upcoming hurricane. Its ability to have natural back-and-forth exchanges differentiates it from many first generation chatbots.
For now, Penny specializes in pre-trip planning for flights, hotels, rental cars and activities. It excels at providing destination ideas tailored to the interests you specify and scrolling through various date/price combinations across Priceline's site. Penny simplifies what can be an overwhelming research process. It also makes suggestions based on loyalty status and past bookings to provide a personalized touch.
However, Priceline says Penny's capabilities will expand over time. Eventually, customers will be able to ask Penny questions during their trip like "What's the best restaurant near my hotel?" Its knowledge base will grow to cover in-destination recommendations and assistance. Penny will also gain the ability to complete customer service tasks like changing flight times, applying travel credits or locating reservation numbers.
Priceline is positioning Penny as an always-available travel concierge. Having an AI assistant capable of answering common questions around the clock provides added convenience. It also reduces wait times by deflecting simple inquiries so human agents can focus on complex issues. Penny's launch is part of Priceline's broader mission to utilize technology to make trip planning and booking more streamlined.
Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - New Partnerships Expand Priceline's Global Reach
As the travel industry emerges from the pandemic, Priceline is aggressively expanding its global footprint through new partnerships with airlines, hotels and alternative accommodations. According to CEO Brett Keller, these deals allow Priceline to showcase a wider range of options all over the world.
One key area of focus is strengthening Priceline's presence in Europe and Asia. In 2021, Priceline launched a partnership with Swissotel Hotels & Resorts to increase inventory in Switzerland, Germany and Singapore. Priceline also teamed up with airline Vueling to boost flight supply across Europe.
Additionally, Priceline inked an exclusive deal with Turkish Airlines to provide more affordable fares to destinations like Istanbul and Ankara. Turkish Airlines carries over 60 million passengers annually, giving Priceline customers access to an extensive new network. According to Keller, Turkey is an underrated gem more travelers should consider.
To expand options in Asia, Priceline partnered with Air Asia. Known as the leading low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia, Air Asia serves over 130 routes. Through the partnership, Priceline added thousands of new hotels across the region.
Priceline also aligned with Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas. Six Senses operates luxury wellness retreats in popular Asian destinations like Bali, Bhutan and Vietnam. According to Keller, "Wellness tourism is booming globally. Our deal with Six Senses lets us tap into that demand."
Alternative accommodations have been another focus. Priceline wants to move beyond traditional hotels. For example, it recently aligned with Homigo to showcase furnished apartments in Europe. Homigo's properties offer added space and amenities for extended stays.
To showcase more boutique properties, Priceline added the Margaritaville Island Reserve collection across the Caribbean. It also teamed up with Karisma Hotels & Resorts to feature adults-only, all-inclusive options in Latin America. According to Keller, "We are steadily growing our portfolio of independent hotels and resorts to provide distinctive experiences."
Moving forward, Priceline aims to expand its alternative accommodation roster even further. Keller explained, "Today's travelers want more than cookie cutter hotel rooms, so we are responding to that appetite."
Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Sustainability Becomes Central to Company Values
As climate change continues to threaten our planet, consumers increasingly expect companies to prioritize eco-friendly practices. Priceline recognizes that minimizing environmental impact must become central to its culture and business operations. According to CEO Brett Keller, "We want to drive meaningful progress through sustainable innovations that support both our customers and communities."
To that end, Priceline has implemented several green initiatives across its organization. A major focus has been reducing carbon emissions associated with travel. Priceline now displays estimated CO2 emissions for flight options during search so customers can make informed choices. The company also introduced a carbon offsetting program, allowing travelers to neutralize their footprint from home page. These features help raise awareness while providing actionable ways to limit impact.
Additionally, Priceline has committed to powering 100% of its operations through renewable energy by 2040. It has already achieved 86% renewable energy usage across its offices, data centers and cloud computing services. Priceline also aims to operate a 100% electric or hybrid ground fleet by 2030. Even seemingly small changes like eliminating plastic water bottles from Priceline's headquarters can make a difference at scale.
To further encourage eco-conscious decisions, Priceline provides green choice badges on hotels with sustainability certifications. This makes it easier for customers to identify properties that implement environmentally friendly practices like low-flow plumbing, LED lighting, linen reuse programs and electric vehicle charging stations. Priceline also highlights tour providers offering carbon neutral excursions.
Importantly, Priceline has established an executive role dedicated to sustainability. As VP of Sustainability, Megha Parekh oversees corporate responsibility across the organization. This ensures environmental priorities remain front and center even during challenging times. Priceline also tied executive compensation to sustainability goals for the first time in 2022. According to Keller, "We want all employees to view advancing sustainability as central to the company's mission - not just a nice to have."
Through its Eco-friendly Trip Search tool, Priceline makes it easier for travelers to evaluate green options across all phases of trip planning. Customers can filter hotels based on LEED certifications, search for eco-conscious tours and choose carbon neutral car rentals. To inspire greener choices, Priceline's online magazine highlights affordable eco-getaways like camping, biking and national park trips.
Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Priceline Bets on Continued Domestic Travel Growth
While international destinations are rebounding, Priceline believes domestic travel will continue driving bookings in 2023 and 2024. According to CEO Brett Keller, domestic demand has been remarkably resilient despite inflationary pressures. He thinks wanderlust will outweigh economic anxiety for American travelers planning stateside getaways.
Keller explains there are positive signs supporting Priceline’s domestic travel outlook. In a recent survey, over half of Americans said they would not let higher prices derail their vacation plans. Many are even willing to sacrifice spending in other areas to protect trip budgets. After two years of restrictions, consumers view traveling as a need versus a nice-to-have. This suggests they will likely trim expenses elsewhere to fund upcoming adventures.
The same survey found nearly 60% of employed Americans still have leftover paid time off. Rather than forfeit hard-earned days, most want to cash in for a getaway before the holidays. Priceline data shows domestic hotel searches for November and December have already eclipsed 2021 levels. So while economic warning signs flash, wanderlust appears alive and well - at least for domestic trips.
Specific domestic destinations Priceline expects to thrive include warm weather favorites like Florida, Arizona and Southern California. National Parks and outdoor-centric locales like Colorado and Montana should also attract nature-lovers. Big cities are poised for a revival as more offices finalize return-to-work plans. Keller is particularly bullish on Las Vegas, predicting it will top 2019 visitor levels next year.
Priceline also anticipates continued growth for drive-to destinations as gas prices ease. Travelers seeking home rentals over hotels for added amenities and space is another trend they see persisting. To capitalize, Priceline expanded its vacation rental inventory by 20% in popular road trip regions.
While border-crossings are rebounding, many Americans still prefer staying stateside right now. Lingering health concerns, travel restrictions and exchange rates are deterring some overseas trips - especially for families. These pragmatic travelers are instead opting for domestic trips offering just as much fun at a more palatable price.
To inspire domestic trips, Priceline’s email campaigns and social content heavily showcase U.S. locations right now. Their American travel advisors receive dedicated training on lesser-known domestic destinations and hidden gems worth discovering. According to Keller, "We want to open travelers’ eyes to the diversity of remarkable experiences available right here at home."
Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - International Travel Expected to Rebound in 2024
After two tumultuous years, 2024 is shaping up to be the year international travel finally returns to pre-pandemic levels. While global tourism has rebounded modestly, myriad restrictions continue deterring many travelers from venturing overseas. However, vaccine dissemination and relaxed entry rules have instilled renewed hope that 2024 will prove a turning point.
In recent surveys, over two-thirds of Americans expressed intent to take an international trip next year. This represents a 15% increase versus current sentiment, suggesting comfort traveling abroad is rising. While economic headwinds could mute demand, interest appears robust enough to drive a material rebound.
This lines up with bullish 2024 projections from major airlines. Delta CEO Ed Bastian foresees international revenues nearing 90% of 2019 totals. United Airlines expects long-haul flights to hit pre-pandemic capacity by year's end. Flight bookings for next summer are already pacing ahead of this summer, signaling international wanderlust is strengthening.
After dealing with ever-changing restrictions, travelers crave simplicity. Fortunately, entry rules have stabilized across many popular destinations. The EU scrapped testing requirements for vaccinated visitors while the UK axed all remaining restrictions. Parts of Asia like Thailand and India have also relaxed visa rules to attract visitors. This predictability removes much of the uncertainty holding back bookings.
Pent-up demand is also likely to drive a surge in travel-starved families visiting relatives overseas next year. With kids back in school, summer 2024 represents the next big opportunity for cross-continent reunions postponed due to the pandemic. Multigenerational trips to reconnect with far-flung loved ones should be in high demand.
Similarly, bucket list trips deferred these past two years will finally become reality in 2024. Safaris in South Africa, jaunts across Australia and tours of ancient sites in Egypt top many must-do lists. Having already sacrificed one special occasion trip, wary travelers will likely splurge next year before another crisis emerges.
For frequent business travelers, restrictions turned long-haul flights into logistical nightmares. But with travel conditions stabilizing, demand for Asia and Europe work trips is returning. Consulting firm McKinsey expects corporate travel to hit pre-COVID levels by mid-2024. This will further propel international flight bookings.
While economic volatility persists, those not facing personal financial hardship still demonstrate willingness to spend on experiences like vacations over material goods. After being deprived of meaningful travel, consumers are unlikely to let macro-economic issues derail international plans as we move into 2024.
After pausing due to health risks, cruising will also come back in 2024 as onboard protocols restore confidence. Cruise lines report wave after wave of bookings as ships return to full capacity. This global tourism activity benefits economies across many continents.
Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Loyalty Programs to Offer More Value and Flexibility
In 2023 and beyond, expect loyalty programs to up the ante when it comes to providing value and flexibility to members. After many programs devalued elite status benefits during the pandemic, they now aim to restore goodwill and win back loyalty. According to Priceline CEO Brett Keller, "Travelers want recognition and special treatment more than ever. Our goal is to deliver that through enhancements tailored to individual preferences and travel habits."
A key focus is enabling customers to earn and redeem points in more ways. For example, Priceline allows members to pool points across its family of brands including Booking.com, KAYAK and OpenTable. Keller explained that travelers want flexibility to earn however they book and redeem seamlessly. Priceline also introduced new elite tiers providing bonuses like annual travel credits and complimentary upgrades to attract high-value jetsetters.
Adding richer benefits for top-spenders recognizes loyalty program mismatches frustrate consumers. If you take dozens of flights on an airline but book primarily through an OTA, you miss out on elite status perks. But Priceline's new MileagePlus Elevate program allows heavy OTA users to earn United elite miles through bookings. According to Keller, "These partnerships eliminate gaps so travelers get rewarded no matter how they shop."
Priceline also aims to provide greater value through personalized promotions. For example, members may be offered bonus points for booking a hotel they have stayed at previously versus a fixed generic offer. Dynamic promotions based on habits carry more weight. Soon, Priceline plans to offer flash upgrades and exclusive rates to loyalty members when booking high-demand flights. Personalized value-adds make the programs more worthwhile.
Another key initiative is enabling customers to redeem points for any travel purchase. Many legacy programs restrict point usage to the company's own inventory. But Priceline now lets members redeem points for rental cars, cruises and activities from any provider. Keller explained, "Our role is removing loyalty program limitations so redemption feels effortless." Priceline also introduced a Pay Yourself Back feature that values points at up to 50% more when redeeming for common purchases like groceries and dining. This unlocks greater value from points during high-inflation times.
Priceline's Vision for the Future: CEO Brett Keller Discusses Holiday Travel, 2024 Outlook and 'Penny' AI - Priceline Pursues Tech and Marketing Innovations
In the ultra-competitive travel industry, innovation is everything. Companies constantly vie to deliver the most seamless, personalized booking platforms with on-trend features. As an OTA pioneer, Priceline recognizes the importance of trailblazing new technology to make trip planning effortless for time-starved consumers.
One recent rollout generating buzz is Priceline's automated fare tracking tool. This uses predictive analytics to notify customers when airfares for tracked routes are expected to increase or decrease. Early tests showed notifications triggered a 7% uptick in bookings within 24 hours as consumers capitalize on predicted price hikes. The tool provides another way to give travelers confidence they are locking in the best deal at the ideal moment.
Priceline also continues to enhance its mobile app functionality to align with shifting consumer habits. Over 50% of Priceline's bookings now originate on mobile, so ensuring a seamless experience is crucial. Recent upgrades include easier loyalty program integration and a smoother checkout flow to reduce abandonment. Priceline also introduced mobile notifications during trips that deliver destination tips based on real-time movements. Personalizing features to complement in-trip usage demonstrates Priceline’s tech savviness.
Seeking to tap into surging interest in sustainable travel, Priceline launched its Eco-Friendly Trip Finder last year. This tool lets customers filter options based on green credentials like LEED-certified hotels, electric vehicle rentals and carbon-neutral tours. Usage has climbed steadily as climate-conscious travelers embrace ways to minimize their environmental impact. Integrating sustainability into search demonstrates Priceline’s tech team has their fingers on the pulse of emerging consumer demands.
Priceline also continues to harness technology to deliver more personalized promotions based on user data and habits. For example, customers browsing hotels in Las Vegas may receive exclusive discount codes for shows and attractions there. Those who recently booked flights to Hawaii could get deals on rental cars in Maui. This type of targeted messaging typically generates 15-30% higher engagement versus generic offers. The strategy provides value while making marketing feel like an individualized experience versus barrage of sales pitches.