Google’s AI Travel Tools, NYC’s Room Crunch and Air France’s Olympics Lounge


Skift Take

Today’s podcast looks at Google’s AI travel tools, New York City’s room crunch, and an Olympics-aimed airport lounge.

Good morning from Skift. It’s Wednesday, May 29. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

Google has made further inroads in the travel industry in recent months with several AI-powered products it’s launched. Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes delves into four of them.

Dawes notes that Google has incorporated new AI features into software for physical products, including mobile phones. A new feature on Android devices enables users to translate content on the screen without having to switch apps. Travel technology firm Sabre recently unveiled a new AI-powered retailing platform for airlines called SabreMosaic, which is meant to help airlines create and sell personalized retail experiences. 

Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines is planning to launch a trip planner built with tech from Google. IHG Hotels & Resorts has plans to release a trip planning tool powered by Google’s AI within its One Rewards mobile app later this year.

Next, New York City hotel rates have hit record highs in large part due to a supply crunch, writes Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.

The average nightly room rate in New York City during the first quarter was $231, a nearly 7% jump from last year, according to data firm CoStar. O’Neill notes one major factor behind the soaring room rates is local authorities essentially banning short-term rentals in the city. The New York Times reported short-term rentals represented roughly 10% of the city’s travel lodging before the crackdown.  

The city’s move to convert thousands of hotel rooms into lodging for migrants has also contributed to the soaring room rates. The practice has removed about 2% of the city’s net hotel rooms from the market compared to pre-Covid levels. 

Finally, Air France will open an ultra-exclusive airport lounge ahead of the Paris Olympics, reports Airlines Editor Gordon Smith. 

While Smith writes the concept of airlines offering exclusive services for premium guests is far from new, he notes Air France is pushing those boundaries further with its new ultra-luxe offering, La Première lounge. Passengers in the lounge have access to a spa as well as a menu curated by prominent chef Alain Ducasse. 

In addition, Air France’s premium guests can reserve space in three completely private suites that are adjacent to the main La Première lounge. Each suite includes a double bedroom, outdoor patio and a dedicated butler on the patio. 

Producer/Presenter: Jose Marmolejos



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