back icon Back Insights 04/26/2024

The Impact of AI Travel Itinerary Planners

Is artificial intelligence (AI) the future of travel planning? The majority of travelers sure think so! More than 60% of travelers in the United States already use AI chatbots on mobile devices to plan or research travel, as per a 2023 survey across 15 markets worldwide. As automation permeates the travel industry, AI travel itinerary planners are becoming popular around the globe. 

So, how can AI travel itinerary planners integrate with existing loyalty rewards programs? Better yet, how will AI travel itinerary planners improve existing loyalty rewards programs? In this comprehensive guide to AI in travel planning, the experts at arrivia will unveil the true impact of AI travel itinerary planners and what to expect when implementing one for your program. 

AI’s Impact on Travel Itinerary Planning

Remember back in the day when travel planning was a manual process that spanned dozens of dated brochures or when “personalized travel itineraries” required travelers to call or fax personal travel providers? You can imagine why we left those processes in the past. Online travel agencies (OTAs) quickly emerged to simplify itinerary planning, but even those left something to be desired.

Enter AI-powered loyalty programs. The inclusion of AI in travel planning immediately helped automate and accelerate the planning and booking process for travelers. Since its inception, AI travel itinerary planners have evolved to enhance the total travel experience, from the initial brainstorming phase through budgeting, final booking, and, ultimately, embarking on a trip. 

Travel services and software now supported by AI travel itinerary planners include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • Personalized travel itineraries
  • Dynamic pricing and discounts
  • Customer service and support
  • Real-time language translation 

How AI Travel Itinerary Planners Work

Like any application of artificial intelligence, AI travel itinerary planners rely on complex machine learning (ML) algorithms and large language models (LLMs) to process large quantities of data and provide relevant recommendations. They essentially become turbo-charged internet booking engines (IBEs), generating custom travel itineraries based on user preferences and real-time data. 

Here’s a quick look at how AI travel itinerary planners work, mainly when deployed in a travel loyalty program.  

Understanding User Preferences

At a time when user preferences are shaping top travel predictions, AI can scour previous user behavior, such as past trip searches and travel history, as well as direct user inputs, like potential travel dates and budgets, to predict traveler preferences. This data collection process helps identify patterns in travel planning and customize travel rewards to accommodate program members better. 

Leveraging Machine Learning and Data Analytics

Beyond user preferences, AI can also analyze unlimited travel data, from flight and hotel pricing fluctuations to famous tourist attractions in various destinations. This subset of machine learning helps AI planners identify beneficial insights, such as budget-friendly vacations, which can explain why 84% of travelers are satisfied or very satisfied with AI travel itinerary recommendations.

Natural Language Processing for Enhanced Interaction

Natural language processing (NLP) is another subset of machine learning that allows AI travel itinerary planners to not only process inputted data but respond with human-like, conversational answers. NLP is often deployed in virtual assistants and chatbots in customer service, which can provide around-the-clock support for itinerary snags and accurate answers to traveler questions. 

A couple checks their AI-generated travel itinerary after arriving at their destination.

Benefits of Using an AI Travel Itinerary Planner

Nearly a quarter of travelers now trust AI to plan or research their upcoming trips, indicating that travel loyalty members could find both convenience and customization through AI technology in travel. That leads us to the question, what are the benefits of incorporating AI itinerary planners into loyalty rewards programs? Check out the following perks of deploying AI in travel planning!

Personalized Travel Experiences

The primary benefit of AI travel itinerary planners is access to automated personalized travel itineraries. By scouring individual user behavior, like previous trips and searches, AI travel planners offer tailored recommendations to accommodate each traveler’s specific selections. For instance, Arrivia’s AI-powered travel tool, VIA, syncs with loyalty member profiles to provide customized recommendations and discounts. 

Efficiency and Time Savings

There’s a reason why almost 1 in 4 travelers prefer AI in travel planning: it replaces a time-consuming process! AI travel itinerary planners connect to thousands of travel APIs to research transportation, accommodations, and real-time pricing in minutes. AI tools like VIA’s SmartCal travel assistant can even sync with traveler schedules to offer customized itineraries based on personal availability. 

Cost Reduction and Budget Optimization

Besides time savings, AI also offers significant cost savings. AI travel planners identify the best pricing across transportation, accommodations, and activities by analyzing months (or even years!) of historical data and remaining current with real-time insights. In addition to personalized travel plans, VIA’s TripTailor tool provides loyalty members with RateRover to monitor price fluctuations and deliver price drop alerts. For reward members, these exclusive cost savings help enhance the perceived program value

Challenges of Implementing AI Travel Itinerary Planners

Despite the myriad benefits accompanying AI travel itinerary planners, there are inherent limitations when implementing this type of automation in loyalty programs. These limitations stem from data privacy and security challenges, inaccurate recommendations, and an imbalance in human support. Consider the following travel planning challenges of implementing AI technology:

  • Data privacy and security concerns. AI travel itinerary platforms require access to loyalty members’ personal data, such as past trips and personal schedules, which means that travel brands must take the proper steps to safeguard their customers from cyber threats
  • Accuracy and relevancy of recommendations. Travelers anticipate relevant and exciting travel ideas from AI, so AI travel itinerary planners must remain up-to-date with individual user preferences, reviews on attractions, and conditions in various destinations. 
  • Lack of balance between automation and the human touch. While automation can carry most of the planning and booking process, the human touch — complete with a real person — is necessary to provide empathetic customer service during complex scenarios. 

More News on AI Travel Technologies from arrivia — Coming Soon!

Is AI the future of travel planning? Travelers have spoken, and all signs point to AI technology in travel — especially AI itinerary planners — becoming increasingly popular. So, how can AI travel itinerary planners integrate with existing loyalty rewards programs? With arrivia as your travel rewards provider, members associations, financial brands, and travel providers can easily do so. 

As a leader in the travel technology space since 1997, arrivia remains one step ahead of AI solutions that can advance and accelerate the travel booking and travel loyalty rewards process. With new AI-powered features currently in development, now is the time to explore arrivia’s services and discover how your customers can benefit from personalized travel itineraries and more!