In today’s fast-paced world, planning a vacation has become more than just picking a destination and booking a flight. Travelers are increasingly turning to the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to make their trips more seamless, personalized and enjoyable. From suggesting the perfect itinerary to finding hidden gems, AI is transforming the way people plan and experience their vacations.
If you’re a marketer in the travel industry, this is one trend you can’t afford to ignore. In this post, we’ll delve into how travelers are harnessing AI for international trip planning and why it’s essential for marketers to stay ahead of the curve in this tech-driven travel landscape. So pack your bags, because we’re embarking on a journey into the exciting world of AI-assisted travel planning.
Machine Learning for Human Journeys
Marketers have largely been focused on harnessing the capabilities of generative AI and the ease of creating or supplementing brand content, while their colleagues in customer service and operations have employed the use of AI in chatbots for quick and efficient customer answers.
According to Skift, AI could have as much as a $28 billion impact within the travel in terms of operational efficiency, performance advertising and more. It can already be used to search for flights, compare prices and find accommodations. This left us wondering, how are everyday customers (in this case, travelers) really using AI for their personal needs and how effective is it? We spoke to two frequent travelers who both recently experimented with letting ChatGPT serve as their trip planner.
Q&A with Spring and Ashley
Our travelers were Spring, an event planner from DC, who planned a quick, romantic getaway to Amsterdam with her husband this past Memorial Day weekend and Ashley, an interior designer from Nashville, who planned a 12-day girls’ vacation through Spain and Portugal with several of her friends.
W64: How did you hear that you could plan a trip using AI?
Spring: AI had been widely publicized on the news at the time of planning our trip. In addition to trying it out to write post-event follow up emails and other professional communications, we thought it might help us uncover popular spots for a city we’d never been to before and weren’t familiar with.
Ashley: I saw it on TikTok!! Gotta love a good social tip.
W64: What elements of trip planning did you use AI for?
Spring: We used it very early on in planning. It helped us develop our itinerary.
Ashley: I used AI to map out the cities we were traveling to based on where we were starting and ending.
W64: What were the challenges you experienced while using it?
Spring: No challenges. Anything that was newly recommended though, we felt the need to verify through additional research.
Ashley: It was a little bit of trial and error to figure out what it could do. I ended up changing and adding prompts quite a few times to get it right. See here.
W64: What did you enjoy about using AI to plan your trip?
Spring: It was another thoughtful input into our planning and research process. It helped us hone our planning by confirming activities or highlighting things we hadn’t considered.
Ashley: It made suggestions that we had not found or researched yet, which was great since we may have overlooked some of them.
W64: What types of information did you get from AI recommendations?
Both: Itinerary, travel times, restaurants, attractions and, of course, night life!
W64: Did you run into any issues with the elements of your trip that were planned on AI?
Spring: No, it was perfect!
Ashley: We actually changed some things, but it gave us a great framework to start with. Since it was just giving suggestions on what to do and not actually booking for us, we didn’t run into any issues.
W64: How do you feel the AI planning experience impacted your trip?
Spring: It made me feel at ease and confident in our plans because it confirmed other research or recommendations we’d identified.
Ashley: I would not completely rely on AI to plan an entire trip. There were still lots of things we needed to research, but it provided a baseline for us. I used it to create the itinerary; note the travel times between cities; and suggest attractions, restaurants and nightlife. We actually ended up not using the restaurant and nightlife recs. We mostly got those from friends.
W64: Would you use AI to plan a trip again?
Spring: Absolutely! I think it’s helpful input and an efficient tool. It helped focus our research and planning, therefore, improving our trip!
Ashley: Yes, we were so lost on which cities we should go to, and how many days to spend in each, and AI was very helpful with that. The craziest part to me is that it literally took SECONDS to fill out an entire 12-day itinerary spreadsheet!
Takeaways and Tips
While AI offers ease and accessibility as a quick planning tool, it has its limitations. Travelers can use it to set the itinerary for their trip, but as we can see there is still a lack of trust that the information provided is tailored to a traveler’s personal needs and interests. And as we learned from Ashley, nothing beats the recommendations of friends and family — the people in your daily life you know and trust! Regardless, if you’re a travel marketer, you are going to want to consider how your brand is coming through on AI searches and how this new technology could potentially impact your organization’s revenue.
Here are our top tips for staying ahead of the AI game and reaching your key travel audiences:
- Get Google-Friendly: Make sure your website content is optimized for SEO. Use the right keywords, engaging images and immersive videos, and solicit online reviews. If travelers can find you easily when they search, AI will pick it up as well.
- Be Data-Smart: Learn what travelers love by digging into your data. See what they click on, share and talk about. AI loves data, so knowing your audience and how they’re engaging with your content will help your brand appear in its recommendations.
- Team Up with AI Travel Apps: Integrate with AI-powered travel apps and , such as Roamer, JourneyGenie and TripPlanner AI. Share your special offers and unique experiences with them. These apps already have a significant user base and getting cozy with them means more travelers will notice your brand!
If you’ve been sleeping on AI or thinking it’s a passing fad, think again. Your customers, guests and visitors are likely already using AI in some form and it’s only a matter of time before trip planning using AI becomes mainstream. To keep up with the curve, start integrating this tool into your marketing strategy now.
*Please be advised, some of this post was written using ChatGPT. 😉