Travellers around the world are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as ChatGPT, to plan their travel itineraries, according to a recent report by market research company Euromonitor International.
This growing trend can be attributed to the convenience and 24/7 accessibility offered by AI technology. Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel and Tourism Research at Euromonitor International states that travellers can now access AI tools from various devices, including smartphones and computers, at any time and from anywhere with an internet connection.
Euromonitor International’s “Voice of the Industry: Travel Survey” revealed that an overwhelming 97.8% of travel executives believe AI will have a significant impact on the industry within the next five years. This indicates the widespread recognition of AI’s potential in revolutionizing travel planning.
One area where AI is expected to disrupt the travel industry is in the booking sector, which is already highly digitalized. Bremner points out that AI, particularly ChatGPT, is already making its mark. In 2023, 66% of all bookings are conducted online, and mobile accounts for 35% of all online sales. With the rise of generative AI, the booking industry is undergoing significant transformation.
Leading travel companies have already begun incorporating AI technology into their platforms. In April 2023, Expedia announced its collaboration with OpenAI, offering in-app trip planning powered by ChatGPT for iOS users. Expedia also introduced a plug-in for ChatGPT Plus users. This collaboration provides travellers with personalized recommendations and acts as a virtual travel assistant, offering relevant results for hotels and suggesting activities at the destination.
Other major travel brands, including Kayak, OpenTable, TripAdvisor, GetYourGuide, and Klook, have followed suit, integrating ChatGPT into their platforms. For example, Trip.com has integrated ChatGPT into TripGen, its AI chatbot that assists travellers with real-time information, itinerary planning, and booking tips during the pre-trip stage. Hotels and airlines are also utilizing generative AI to enhance customer service and automate mundane tasks.
While the adoption of AI in the travel industry presents numerous benefits, concerns over consumer privacy and reliance on outdated information have arisen. Some countries, like Italy, have temporarily banned ChatGPT due to privacy concerns. Additionally, there is a two-year lag in ChatGPT’s access to current events and real-time information. However, Microsoft Bing has developed a plug-in that enables ChatGPT to access real-time data, addressing some of these concerns.
Caroline Bremner emphasizes the importance of prioritizing consumer safety and security in AI adoption. Concerns regarding the amplification of misinformation, bias, and inequality must be addressed. Tech leaders, including Elon Musk, have called for a pause in AI development to prevent risks to humanity. Bremner notes that the travel industry, similar to the disruption caused by online travel three decades ago, must adapt to this new phase of digital transformation with a test-and-learn approach. However, she believes that travel brands that preserve the human touch and focus on hospitality will thrive amidst the AI revolution.
As AI continues to evolve, integrating generative AI into everyday life and work, the travel industry will witness further transformation. With its ability to provide personalized recommendations, automate tasks, and access real-time information, AI technology, exemplified by ChatGPT, is reshaping the way travellers plan their trips. The future of travel planning is undoubtedly tied to the advancements and adoption of AI, bringing both opportunities and challenges for the industry.
You can read more in Euromonitor International’s report on Revolutionising Travel with ChatGPT and Generative AI, which includes a detailed analysis on the impact of future technology on travel brands and destinations.