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Friday,  April 19, 2024 4:56 PM 

Booking.com creates “AI Trip Planner” using ChatGPT


Booking.com creates “AI Trip Planner” using ChatGPT
Booking.com has announced a new “AI Trip Planner" powered by OpenAI’s ChatGPT API. (3rdtimeluckystudio/Shutterstock)
Pax Global Media

Booking.com has announced a new “AI Trip Planner,” which will launch in beta to a selection of U.S. travellers in the company’s app on June 28.

Built upon the foundation of Booking.com’s existing machine learning models that recommend destination and accommodation options, the AI Trip Planner is also partially powered by large language model (LLM) technology from OpenAI’s ChatGPT API to create a new conversational experience for people who are planning trips.

As outlined in a press release, travellers can ask the AI Trip Planner general travel-related questions, as well as more specific queries to support any stage of their trip planning process, including scoping out potential destinations and accommodation options, providing travel inspiration, as well as creating itineraries for a particular city, country or region.

Travellers will be able to chat with the pilot AI Trip Planner to describe what they’re looking for in broad or specific terms, ask questions and refine their search in real time, with new options surfaced in just a matter of seconds.

OpenAI’s “ChatGPT,” a natural language chatbot, is challenging the travel landscape. (CHUAN CHUAN/Shutterstock)

Integrated travel planning

The AI Trip Planner also provides travellers with a visual list of destinations and properties, including pricing information, with deep-links to view more details.

Travellers can go back and forth between their chat with the AI Trip Planner and the Booking.com app interface as they consider options for their trip.

READ MORE: ChatGPT isn't going to impact travel agents or TAAP, says Expedia

They can also complete a reservation, as the AI Trip Planner is directly integrated into the accommodation booking experience in the Booking.com app.

“Our primary aim at Booking.com has always been to leverage technology to make travel easier,” said Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking.com, in a release. “The recent developments with generative AI are accelerating the work we’ve been doing for years with machine learning to enhance and improve every aspect of the customer experience on our platform, whether it’s optimizing the right order to display a hotel’s photos to surfacing the most relevant reviews." 

"Our new AI Trip Planner is simply the next step in our ongoing journey to explore how we can bring even more value, and hopefully enjoyment, to the entire trip planning process.”

Beginning on June 28, the beta AI Trip Planner will become available to a growing percentage of Booking.com Genius members in the United States over the coming weeks.

The company didn’t say when or if the technology would ever make its way to Canada.

Friend or foe?

Artificial intelligence, and its impact on trip planning, has been a hot topic in travel trade circles in recent months.

ChatGPT (short for “Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer”) has been praised for generating detailed answers across many domains of knowledge, and for understanding nuances that search engines, like Google, can’t comprehend.

Some critics have sounded the alarm about the new tech, warning that it can be unreliable at times, and in travel industry circles, the conversation over whether AI is a friend or foe has been ongoing (see PAX’s own take here).

Earlier this year, Expedia Group (owner of Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Vrbo) announced a collaboration with OpenAI to simplify trip planning for ChatGPT users.

READ MORE: ChatGPT - what it is & why travel advisors should try it out

Previously, ChatGPT could identify what to do and where to stay, but it couldn’t help users book a trip.

Now, with a new plug-in, users can bring a trip itinerary in ChatGPT to life – how to get there, where to stay, and what to see and do – all powered by Expedia’s own data.

But the company says generative artificial intelligence, like ChatGPT, isn't going to impact OTAs and, by extension, its work with travel agents and TAAP (its travel agent affiliate program).

“Travel is still a highly-complex field where getting the details right matters,” Expedia wrote. “Furthermore, travellers still care about the end to end seamless experience and that's where our decades of experience, data and knowledge of traveller preferences is still important.”

Canada's TravelOnly is also embracing the integration of AI tools.

As previously reported by PAX, the host agency, over the past year, has been developing a front-end AI solution – a “TravelGPT,” layered atop ChatGPT – specifically designed for its network of some 750 independent and home-based travel advisors.

“This tool will help our associates manage their business better,” TravelOnly’s President and CEO Gregory Luciani told PAX recently, referring to the soon-to-be-released platform as a “personal assistant” that will help agents build itineraries and save time.

“We're pretty excited about it.”


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