< PrevNext > Hotel Unbundling Leads to More Booking Chaos in 2020 By Donna M. Airoldi / January 24, 2020 / Contact Reporter Share The use of artificial intelligence to parse traveler data to provide more personalized booking choices has been on the upswing. Proponents tout better selections, increased time and cost savings and higher program compliance. At the same time, there is a movement toward attribute-based shopping, or the unbundling of hotel rooms, not unlike the airline sector’s embrace of ancillary-based displays, which continues with New Distribution Capability. (The backlash against unpopular resort fees is partially leading this charge on the hotel front.) Sure, there’s already been pricing segregation based on room type: king-sized versus queen-sized bed; standard room versus suite; a room on the corporate floor, complete with lounge perks. But now technology could allow for differentiated pricing on whether the room is near the ice machine, what kind of linens are used, whether bottled water is included, pillow selection, fitness center access, pool access, breakfast, parking, carbon offsetting, in-room eco-products and room cleaning. (Folks have gotten used to paying a separate cleaning fee on Airbnb.) You name it.What then would be defined as a “standard” room for a travel program? All these a la carte options could be offered as individual rooms in an online booking tool, making the choices seem endless. To make this the perfect storm, most OBTs now include content from online travel agencies and Airbnb—in order to make the corporate booking experience more like the consumer experience and to try to lower leakage.But do travelers really trust their corporate booking tools, or do they still go outside the program to double-check availability and prices? Won’t all these additional options just push them further in that direction, to outside sites to make sure they’re getting what they want at the best price?Or, the use of data and AI could take a traveler’s past selections and bundle together a hotel room “package” that offers the traveler’s preferences from past stays all in one option. That sounds great, right? Get what you want and pay only for what you want. Plus, it’s served up as one of the top choices in the OBT. That is the direction the market is heading, but it will take time to capture enough data to make the technology and algorithms accurate and comprehensive enough to ensure trust and loyalty on the part of travelers. If and when that is achieved, then companies could begin to see increased time and cost savings and program compliance. In the meantime, though, travelers are likely to get even more choices that could lead to delayed decisions. And once the OBTs are able to offer preference bundles, what if they actually end up costing more than if they were priced out individually? There’s nothing to stop the set-up of the system from offering a premium price for giving a traveler exactly what they want. So, cost savings at least in 2020 still could be up in the air.