Your next itinerary, courtesy of AI - Hindustan Times

Your next itinerary, courtesy of AI

Sep 06, 2023 03:17 AM IST

The integration of AI in the travel industry, facilitating data-driven travel plans and customised dining recommendations, is making journeys hassle-free.

In recent years, the travel experience has been greatly enhanced by technology, from smartphone applications replacing paper tickets to guests operating hotel amenities without interacting with staff. Today, whether you are island hopping on the Andaman Islands or hiking your way through Himachal Pradesh, the advent and application of AI in the travel industry are on the verge of shifting how we approach exploring the world.

Beyond travel search engines, AI technology is making hotel stays more comfortable.
Beyond travel search engines, AI technology is making hotel stays more comfortable.

Ixigo, an Indian online travel portal, has been using technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for travel for the last 10 years for various use cases like prediction of fares or automating customer service using AI chatbots. But now, with generative AI like ChatGPT — which is capable of producing its own content —they are leveraging the technology to create customer-focused tools.

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“We recently introduced PLAN by Ixigo, an intelligent trip planner built on OpenAI. In the next phase, we plan to further evolve this feature to include events, social trends and real-time social sharing, allowing users to collaborate with friends and family for a fun and interactive trip-planning experience,” says Rajnish Kumar, co-founder and chief technology officer at Ixigo.

While PLAN can automatically tag, map and generate a detailed itinerary along with weather and AQI updates, MakeMyTrip, through its collaboration in May with Microsoft, aims to provide a more inclusive and accessible travel planning tool for voice-assisted booking in Indian languages.

“With voice-generating AI, we are enhancing personalised travel recommendations and enabling native-language conversations between travellers and virtual assistants. This will help users based out of the remotest corners of the country who have trouble engaging with an app environment or the mobile keypad get solutions in their native language. The feature is available in English and Hindi for our flight and holiday offerings,” says a spokesperson for the online travel services provider.

Beyond travel search engines, AI technology is making hotel stays more comfortable. At The Westin Resort and Spa Himalayas, guests can connect with the team remotely for personalised assistance and use mobile keys to skip the check-in process. The Marriott Group has recently initiated AI-powered facial recognition tech to ease this process further.

Jaideep Patil, founder of a travel company, recently tried out to curate an itinerary for his trip to Iceland. “I was able to input dates and even asked to consider specific criteria — like visiting at least one waterfall and one black sand beach. We also asked for a food itinerary tailored for a vegetarian friend and it helped me cut down on hours of planning time while still giving me personalised recommendations,” he explains.

For Subham Bhalla, a social worker who decided to spend some extra time in Shimla after a work retreat, Roam Around, a ChatGPT-driven travel search engine, mapped up a five-day itinerary that guided him in and around the city without any hiccups.

Dos and don’ts of using AI for travel planning:

Use AI as a guide: Employ AI tools like ChatGPT as a helpful guide, starting point or source of inspiration to kick off your travel planning process.

Always verify the information: Cross-reference AI-generated recommendations with reliable sources like travel guides, official websites and recent reviews to ensure accuracy and relevance.

Don’t ignore local expertise: Don’t disregard the value of local recommendations, insights and cultural nuances that AI might overlook.

Don’t skip customisation: Refrain from following an AI itinerary without personalising it as per your interests, preferences and travel style for a more enriching experience.

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