Over one third of US and Canadian travellers have been experimenting with generative AI for travel planning and booking – and almost all are pleased with the results. Jenny Southan reports

Would you trust artificial intelligence to organise your holiday? A study from international management consulting firm Oliver Wyman has revealed the “tremendous promise” Generative AI (Gen AI) holds for leisure travel inspiration, planning and booking. (It also created the images used in this article.)

The company states: “With a few simple natural language prompts, conversational tools such as Google’s Bard and Expedia’s ChatGPT integration can provide travellers with well-tailored destination options, detailed trip itineraries and suggestions for add-ons like tours and car rentals for them to book.”

After quizzing 1,100 leisure travellers in the US and Canada, it was revealed that there is growing interest in using generative AI for travel planning.

In fact, 84 per cent of survey respondents reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the quality of generative AI’s recommendations.

Despite being relatively new, these tools have already captured the attention of leisure travellers, with over a third (34 per cent) experimenting with them and half (52 per cent) of those users booking most or all of the suggested options.

The survey highlighted that 44 per cent of travellers already trust generative AI throughout the booking process, despite still lacking robust personalisation capabilities.

Elite loyalty members from airlines, hotels, and cruise lines have shown particular interest in generative AI tools, with a usage rate more than double (48 per cent) that of non-members. This trend suggests that suppliers need to embrace generative AI to cater to their most valuable customers effectively. Gen AI trip planning Cruise enthusiasts, in particular, have demonstrated a keenness for using generative AI to book add-ons like shore excursions, presenting an opportunity for cruise lines to enhance their offerings and reduce indirect channel costs.

Generative AI tools also hold promise for increasing the online penetration of cruise bookings and streamlining the booking process for ancillary travel services like car rentals and activities.

Moreover, the development of personalised itineraries through generative AI could lead to a surge in vacation package bookings. As leisure travellers continue to embrace this technology, stakeholders in the travel industry must strategise on how to leverage generative AI to enhance customer experiences and drive business growth.