Booking.com has harnessed ChatGPT to power its AI Trip Planner, enabling travellers to research trips in a conversational way. Jenny Southan reports
Booking.com, one of the world’s leading digital travel platforms, debuted its AI Trip Planner in “beta” mode to a selection of US travellers last summer, at around the same time as Kayak, Tripadvisor and Expedia launched similar platforms.
Built upon the foundation of Booking.com’s existing machine learning models that recommend destination and accommodation options to millions of travellers on the site every day, the AI Trip Planner is partially powered by large language model (LLM) technology from OpenAI’s ChatGPT API to create a new conversational experience for people to start their trip planning process.
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 based on the individual traveler’s needs and requirements, as well as creating itineraries for a particular city, country or region.
Users can also easily 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.
From searching for inspiration on romantic beach destination options in the Caribbean to zeroing in on a specific list of vacation homes for a family of four, with air conditioning and a pool, the AI Trip Planner makes recommendations in a quick, conversational way.
The AI Trip Planner takes the trip planning process one step further by providing travelers with a visual list of destinations and properties, including Booking.com’s 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. With just a tap on any accommodation they are interested in, they can complete the reservation, as the AI Trip Planner is directly integrated into the accommodation booking experience in the Booking.com app.
To use the AI Trip Planner, customers must be Genius members and need to be signed in to their Booking.com account in the app and have their language settings set to English to access the new travel planning tool.
“Our primary aim at Booking.com has always been to leverage technology to make travel easier,” says Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking.com. “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.”
Rob Francis, CTO of Booking.com, says: “Our new AI Trip Planner provides us with some really exciting possibilities to help our customers plan and search for travel options in a very natural, human way. Oftentimes, people are asked to adapt to the confines of technology to do what they want, but with generative AI, we’re able to start having scalable, one-to-one conversations with our customers on their terms, much like how you would begin to talk about planning a trip with your partner or friends.
“It’s just the beginning, but we have lots of runway here to explore in order to innovate and connect the travel experience further on Booking.com, all in a safe, ethical and inclusive way.”
Booking.com tips to get the most out of the AI Trip Planner:
- Give as much information as possible: The greater amount of detail provided by a user, the more precise the tool’s answers and recommendations will be.
- Chat like a human: While using the tool, apply conversational, natural language, and full sentences to describe what you are looking for and refine your trip plans in real time.
- Ask for what you want: Access personalised itineraries and discover activities or attractions in a destination, by specifically asking for this.