WayBlazer Makes Travel Planning “Smarter” with Artificial Intelligence

Planning a romantic trip for your partner this upcoming holiday? Maybe a family vacation to a kid-friendly resort? Or perhaps you want to take a solo trip for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure? Whatever your desired destination, we all know travel planning can be a headache. Looking online for the best deals isn’t a walk in the park either. “The average traveler searches over 30 sites before booking,” Terry Jones told Digital Journal. Founder of Travelocity.com and Kayak.com, Jones is keenly aware of the difficulties behind travel planning logistics. To improve the long-winded process, Jones together with Manoj Saxena, former General Manager of IBM Watson Solutions, merged travel planning with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and started WayBlazer.

Founded in 2014, the Austin-based software startup developed an interactive platform for travel companies to help travelers plan their next trip, whether it’s booking the flight, accommodation, tours, and so forth. However, more than just a way to find the cheapest plane tickets or hotel rooms, the AI-driven tool provides contextually relevant recommendations for the user. Unlike traditional computing, AI is able to recognize and communicate in natural languages and can therefore vet out irrelevant keywords to better grasp the kind of experience a traveler is looking for. It can sift through travel reviews, location descriptions, and blogs. Better yet, AI can also comprehend images and videos to gather even more information about a desired location.  Jones explained, “By communicating in natural language, suppliers can derive the consumer’s actual intent in trip planning (i.e. ‘I want to vacation on an island in January for my anniversary’).” WayBlazer’s technology also gets smarter with every use because of AI’s capacity to learn and acquire new knowledge.

The company offers its AI platform to existing travel companies. Most recently, Fareportal, the company behind CheapOair and OneTravel, partnered with WayBlazer and after a trial, the company was pleased with the AI technology. Fareportal founder and CEO Sam S. Jain said, “Using their artificial intelligence product to optimize our hotel offerings, we’ve seen significant improvements in engagement on our website and an average conversion lift of 10% for hotel bookings.” Notably, WayBlazer isn’t out to replace human travel agents just yet. Jones asserted that it can be used by humans. For one, the AI can help human travel agents better answer their clients’ requests, especially the more difficult ones.

Because of its ingenuity, WayBlazer received the “Top Innovator” and “People’s Choice” Awards at the Lion’s Den’s “Digital Meets Travel” competition in 2017.

Are you a software company seeking to incorporate Artificial Intelligence to improve existing software? Did you know that your experiments with AI, even if unsuccessful, are eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today.

Swanson Reed regularly hosts free webinars and provides free IRS CE credits as well as CPE credits for CPA’s.  For more information please visit us at www.swansonreed.org/webinars or contact your usual Swanson Reed representative.


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