According to a worldwide survey of greater than 5,700 travelers commissioned by Expedia Group, the typical traveler spends greater than five hours researching a visit and reviews 141 pages of content — for Americans, it is a whopping 277 pages.
And that is just in the ultimate 45 days before departing.
Enter generative artificial intelligence — a technology set to simplify that process, and permit corporations to raised tailor recommendations to travelers’ specific interests.
What could that appear to be? The hope is that AI won’t only plan itineraries, but communicate with hotels, draft travel budgets, even function as a private travel assistant — and in the method fundamentally alter the way in which corporations approach travelers.
A typical home search on Airbnb, for instance, produces results that do not take past searches into consideration. You can have a decade of booking upscale, contemporary homes under your belt, but you will likely still be offered rustic, salt-of-the-earth rentals in the event that they match the filters you have set.
But that might soon change.
During an earnings call in May, CEO Brian Chesky discussed how AI could alter Airbnb’s approach. He said: “Instead of asking you questions like: ‘Where are you going, and when are you going?’ I would like us to construct a strong profile about you, learn more about you and ask you two greater and more fundamental questions: Who are you, and what do you wish?”
While AI that gives the ever-elusive goal of “personalization at scale” is not here yet, it’s the power to look massive amounts of information, reply to questions asked using natural language and “remember” past inquiries to construct on a conversation — the way in which humans do — that has the travel industry (and plenty of others) sold.
In a survey conducted in April by the market research firm National Research Group, 61% of respondents said they’re open to using conversational AI to plan trips — but only 6% said they really had.
Furthermore, greater than half of respondents (51%) said that they didn’t trust the tech to guard their personal data, while 33% said they feared it might provide inaccurate results.
Yet while travelers are still debating the security and merits of using AI for trip planning, many major travel corporations are already diving headfirst into the technology.
Just have a look at the names on this list.
- In February, the Singapore-based travel company Trip.com launched TripGen, an in-app chatbot powered by OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT.
- In March, Expedia and Kayak were among the many first batch of plugins rolled out by ChatGPT.
- In April, Expedia announced a beta launch of a AI chatbot from ChatGPT.
- In May, the Europe-based travel booking company eDreams Odigeo joined Google Cloud’s AI “Trusted Testers Program,” and Airbnb announced plans to construct GPT-4, OpenAI’s newest large language model, into its interface.
Then the summer of 2023 saw a burst of AI travel tech announcements.
- Amazon Web Services announced an investment of $100 million right into a program to assist corporations use generative AI, with RyanAir and Lonely Planet as two of the primary 4 corporations involved.
- Booking.com rolled out an in-app “Trip Planner” AI chatbot to pick U.S. members of its Genius loyalty program.
- Priceline launched a platform called Trip Intelligence, led by a Google-backed generative AI chatbot named “Penny.”
HomeToGo’s recent “AI Mode” allows travelers to search out vacation rental homes using natural language requests.
- Tripadvisor launched a web-based, AI-powered travel itinerary maker called Trips.
- Trip.com released an updated chatbot called TripGenie, which responds to text and voice requests, shows images and maps, and provides links for bookings.
- The holiday home rental company HomeToGo beta launched an in-app AI search function called “AI Mode” for users within the United States and United Kingdom.
Now, more travel corporations have ChatGPT plugins, including GetYourGuide, Klook, Turo and Etihad Airways. And a slew of AI-powered trip planners — from Roam Around (for general travel), AdventureGenie (for recreational vehicles), Curiosio (for road trips) — added more options to the growing AI travel planning market.
Travel planning is probably the most visible use of AI within the travel industry at once, but corporations are already planning recent features.
Trip.com’s Senior Product Director Amy Wei said the corporate is considering developing a virtual travel guide for its latest AI product, TripGenie.
“It will help provide information, resembling an introduction to historical buildings and objects in a museum,” she told CNBC. “The vision is to create a digital travel companion that may understand and converse with the traveler and supply assistance at every step of the journey.”
The travel news site Skift points out AI could also be used to predict flight delays and help travel corporations reply to negative online reviews.
The company estimates chatbots could bring $1.9 billion in value to the travel industry — by allowing corporations to operate with leaner customer support staff, freeing up time for humans to concentrate on complex issues. Chatbots needn’t be hired or trained, can speak multiple languages, and “don’t have any learning curve,” as Skift points out in a report titled “Generative AI’s Impact on Travel.”
Overall, Skift’s report predicts generative AI might be a $28.5 billion opportunity for the travel industry, an estimate that if the tools are used to “their full potential … will look conservative in hindsight.”