Group tour planners who have never used artificial intelligence to plan a travel itinerary still likely sit in the majority pool—but perhaps not for long. 

With the growing uses of and enthusiasm for AI, more and more people are using the technology to plan trips to draft travel budgets, communicate with hotels, and more—all things that can also help group tour planners and operators as they plan their itineraries. 

A New Frontier for Travel Planners

Expedia Group, in a global survey of more than 5,700 travelers last year, found that the average person spends roughly five hours researching a proposed trip and reviews 141 pages of content before coming up with a travel plan. 

Now, thanks to AI, those numbers can go the way of the dodo bird. One example: Expedia, also early last year, announced it had launched a beta version of a new app that would allow would-be travelers to get recommendations and help them plan their trips. The tool, using ChatGPT, is a fresh take on planning itineraries. No more scouring through hundreds of web pages to find and plan the next fabulous destination; AI will do it for you. 

Expedia Group members can start an open-ended conversation in the Expedia app and “get recommendations on places to go, where to stay, how to get around, and what to see and do based on the chat,” according to a news release about the launch. “But much more than that, the new trip planning experience brings in intelligent shopping by automatically saving hotels discussed in the conversation to a ‘trip’ in the app, helping members stay organized and making it easier for them to start choosing dates, checking availability, and adding on flights, cars or activities.”

Peter Kern, CEO and vice chairman of Expedia Group, said in the news release that the new tool will help lessen the stress of losing an itinerary, saving both time and money for the traveler. 

“Every great trip can be made or lost while planning and shopping,” he said. “By integrating ChatGPT into the Expedia app and combining it with our other AI-based shopping capabilities, like hotel comparison, price tracking for flights and trip collaboration tools, we can now offer travelers an even more intuitive way to build their perfect trip.” 

What the Numbers Say

Preliminary numbers about people using AI to make travel plans have been mostly positive. According to the National Research Group (NRG), for instance, most consumers surveyed (61%) about whether they would use the technology to plan their trips say they would, although many of them (51%) said they’re afraid of providing too much personal information to AI. The numbers from NRG indicate the following: 

  • 61% of consumers said they’d be willing to use conversational AI to help plan a future trip; 46% said they expect AI to have an overall positive impact on the travel experience. 
  • Among consumers who’ve used AI to help plan a trip, 49% said they found it to be a “very effective” tool. However, more than half (51%) of travelers said they’re worried AI-powered travel tools will fail to adequately protect their personal data.
  • 81% said if they were using AI to help plan a trip, they’d want to double check all the information given to them by the AI before making any decisions.

So, almost a year after Expedia’s beta app launch, what does the increasing popularity of using AI for travel planning mean for group planners? 

Artificial intelligence can take the hassle out of planning an itinerary and tap the pulse of the industry within a matter of seconds. It can help planners better understand the market, including what potential clients are seeking in their travel experiences, and, as such, help planners make more informed decisions based on these data-driven insights.

Using artificial intelligence to plan travel itineraries might be a new trend, but it likely isn’t a fad; all things considered in the modern, techno-driven world, it is something that is here to stay. Just ask AI. And while you’re chatting it up, you might want to ask what your next group tour destination should be. You’ll get an answer within a matter of seconds. 

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