Semantic Search and its Impact on the Future of the Hospitality and Travel Industry
By Alan Young, President of Puzzle Partner Ltd.
Alan E. Young, President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and Advisory Board Member of FindMyCarrots.com
The introduction of semantic search during the online search phase of a travel booking is becoming a game changer. Now some may say that this is not all the new and they may be correct the application of semantic search focused on the travel industry is still in its infancy.
The premise is quite simple but the technology behind the curtain is not. Semantic search enables the traveler to focus their search priorities within an open search text box. Let's take the idea of looking for a hotel in Florida to do spring break with the family. You would start entering put in your destination, dates and other basic criteria - then you wait for the booking engine to reveal a list of hotel results. This type of query is extremely restrictive and not at all intuitive. Potential guests are looking for a myriad of different variables that will enhance their stay and ultimately help them choose the perfect hotel for their trip. These variables may be more activity related or location related. They could also be looking for a defined search based upon their unique family needs. Not just two adults and two children staying in a hotel - but perhaps considering preferences at various times as a family - making the location of the hotel based upon their specific requirements incredibly important. Finally, searching for interesting destinations and attractions that are in proximity to the hotel can be a driving force in making a booking decision.
An example of semantic search in travel is as follows: 'looking for a hotel near the beach but within walking distance of great shops and restaurants in San Diego'. Another could be - 'hotel near downtown but has transit nearby to go the zoo in Toronto'. The complexity of the search parameters is endless so you need a very powerful semantic engine behind the scenes crunching a great deal of data to properly to expose only those hotels that meet the prospective guests' requirements.
The other issue is the fact that there are a massive number of searches that go on today using online booking engines that are ultimately booked using a call center or reservation service due primarily to the lack of pertinent search data available online. Hotel companies, CRS platforms and OTA’s must now be able to give the travelling public exactly what they want in order to be pertinent. The introduction of semantic search will enable the travel experience to evolve constantly and get continuously better.
Forbes posted an article back in 2012 written by Earl Rennison, VP Architecture of Monster Worldwide where he stated, “Semantic search can dramatically simplify discovering destinations and activities, reduce the complexity involved in tailoring a vacation. Imagine simply entering a list of your family’s interests, and being instantly presented with vacation opportunities, and then navigating alternate possibilities in a matter of minutes.”
Now in 2015, the time is right, and with companies like FindMyCarrots, the technology is available to start truly engaging with potential guests and help them make the proper buying decision based on their unique set of personal criteria.