Skip to main content Skip to footer


Generative AI changes the narrative and the trip


March 4, 2024

It was 10 years ago now that I went to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup. I’d never been before and hadn’t done much research on where to go or what to do. I’d booked an Airbnb, but I was planning on figuring everything else out on the fly. It was either going to be a complete disaster or a real adventure.

It turned out to be one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken. The couple who owned the Airbnb had lived in the US for many years and were keen to practice their English. Over the ten days I spent there, they turned into my own personal tour guides. By the end of the trip, they knew me inside out. They knew exactly what I wanted to see, where I would love to eat and how to create the perfect itinerary for me.

It’s a trip that stands out because of the level of personalization, and it’s been hard to live up to since. But with the advent of Gen AI, that might be about to change.

Taking a trip can be filled with unknowns. Starting with where to go, how to plan for the trip, transiting through the airport and what local restaurants can provide a good meal. Most people aren’t lucky enough to have such intuitive Airbnb hosts but now Gen AI can be with the traveler from the moment they think about taking a trip all the way through to their return home and can help ease those concerns while delivering more satisfying customer experiences.

Having recognized the benefits of this transformative technology, most travel companies are cautiously diving into employing Gen AI. In this blog series, I’ll be looking at both quick wins and long-term bets to help ensure that the industry can start getting the most out of Gen AI across the value chain.

Transforming the travel experience

After talking to various clients, I’ve realized that many travel companies still have questions about how exactly Gen AI can improve the end-to-end experience. For example, how can Gen AI help travel companies earn the trust and commitment of travelers before they even start their journey? How can Gen AI keep customers in their ecosystems, and keep them from straying over to other websites and travel providers? And how can travel companies use Gen AI to play more of a role in a customer’s travel experience?

In this post I’m going to look at the impact that Gen AI can have on each stage of the traveler experience.


Being inspired to travel, even before planning starts, is a crucial first step. Without inspiration, the trip planning process might suddenly be put on hold. Worse still, if someone is committed to travel but finds no inspiration from a travel company’s website, they might take their business elsewhere. That’s where Gen AI can tip the scales. Gen AI can provide the sights, sounds and information that can push a traveler into trip planning mode.

We can’t ignore the role of travel influencers here. They have been instrumental in shaping how the travel sector connects with consumers, particularly for Millennials and Gen Z. The post-pandemic travel boom has reinforced their role in the travel ecosystem.i But Generative AI can also act as a travel influencer. Through chatbots and customizable interfaces, travel companies can now provide customers with a ‘virtual influencer’. An influencer that can provide significant moments of inspiration, answer specific questions about travel destinations and even stay with customers while they’re on their vacation.

Key to the inspiration process is the ability to rapidly collect and distribute data. And Gen AI does this really well. For example, if a parent wants to search for themed rides at a park for one of their children, Gen AI’s intuitive capacities can narrow down rides on that theme. Gen AI can provide a personalized experience for travelers in real time — providing options and inspiration.

Travel Planning

We’ve seen that Gen AI has the power to influence, but it’s the travel planning process where it can have the most upfront impact.

Planning a trip can often feel rigid, siloed and disjointed. Travelers may visit multiple sites to get the information they need. What if travel companies could simplify the process? What if they could collect all relevant data in a single location, and let consumers search in a way that makes sense for them? Generative AI has the potential to allow travelers to do this. It would allow consumers to ask relevant questions, get fast and accurate results and avoid spending excessive time navigating to other websites.

Gen AI provides travel companies with a strategic advantage. It allows them to move from managing customer relationships, to owning them. To control the end-to-end experience, disintermediate third parties and capture more value from each transaction. Gen AI allows companies to move from a passive strategy which relies on physical assets (such as hotel properties and resorts) to attract customers, to a more direct approach. This direct approach sees Gen AI as both the planning tool for customers, and the function that will keep the customer in an active and ongoing relationship with their travel provider.

Expedia Group has heard the need for a simplified search process loud and clear. Travelers can now plan their travel arrangements by having an open-ended “chat” with the Expedia app. Customers can discuss travel plans, options for accommodation and activities — just as if they were planning the trip while sitting with a human travel advisor.ii

The Travel Journey

But the power of Gen AI doesn’t stop there. Beyond travel planning, Gen AI can serve as the first true virtual travel assistant. A ‘digital concierge’ that can inform and enrich a traveler’s trip. The virtual equivalent of the Airbnb hosts I was lucky enough to meet in Brazil.

Gen AI provides a single model that can interact and collect data from multiple sources (call center agents, front desk agents, airline gate attendants, etc.). It can use this data to serve as an in-depth travel agent, advisor, concierge and even guide. It can also manage disruptions by providing real-time recommendations. A ‘one stop shop’ for travelers. has launched TripGen, an AI-powered chatbot designed to provide travelers with live assistance, enabling users to receive tailored travel routes, itineraries and travel booking advice in real time on the platform. The Natural Language Processing-integrated chatbot allows users to enter fragmented travel-related questions and receive instant suggestions for pre-trip decisions and in-trip arrangements, from flights and hotels to transportation and tours.iii

Beyond the Trip

Generative AI’s power to shape the travel journey doesn’t stop once a trip ends. While boarding the plane home and unpacking their bags, travelers contemplate both the trip they’ve been on and the next one they’re thinking of taking.

This is why it’s just as important to use Gen AI at this point in the journey. Providing travelers with highlights of their trip, or even suggesting the next big destination can extend the customer experience. And giving customers a reason to look ahead will inspire them to begin planning all over again.

The next destination for Gen AI

Generative AI’s impact on travel companies will be enormous. But travel companies need to get started now. They need to decide where Gen AI can be used to achieve maximum effectiveness across the enterprise, consider the key steps I’ve listed above and act quickly to use AI to transform their Business Operations. At a time when consumer tastes and preferences are changing just as fast as technology, this is going to make a world of competitive difference.


Michael Robinson

Managing Director – Travel Innovation and Ecosystems Lead