By Max Starkov

This week I asked a ChatGPT-powered itinerary builder to suggest a week vacation in Kyoto, Japan. Within seconds it spat out a recommended itinerary that was exactly – experience by experience – like the tourist program I did in Kyoto during my recent visit there.

I definitely see a huge role of AI in the Dreaming and Planning Phases of the Digital Customer Journey.

The question is – who will be the winners and losers from the new generative Al technology like Open AI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard or Anthropic’s Claude? Here is my take.

The Winners:

  • The OTAs, which have already implemented ChatGPT plug-ins to the chatbots on their websites (Expedia,, Kayak, Booking, etc). That was fast, indeed! Adding AI as a planning tool now helps the OTAs to shortcut the digital customer journey and almost immediately transport travelers from the Planning to the Booking Phase of the customer journey.

The OTAs are well prepared to make bookable any AI-suggested itinerary with their 2.5 million multi room accommodation establishments, 6 million vacation rentals, 600 airlines, 250,000 local experiences, etc.

  • The major hotel chains which, I hope, are already working on or at least considering adding ChatGPT powered chatbots to their brand websites. Here the question is – why so slow to adopt this new technology?

The Losers:

  • Traditional travel agencies and tour operators. Travelers would be able to get from generative AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT much better advice about destinations, accommodations and things to do than from human travel advisors. The Internet and online bookings decimated the traditional distribution system, I am afraid now AI will inflict an additional damage to it.
  • Independent hotels, which have no financial capability, tech expertise or even the will to implement, train and maintain ChatGPT-powered chatbots on their websites. Mind you, we are talking about websites, which themselves are in desperate need of redesign and complete overhaul of their CMS, SEO, booking engine, merchandising functionality and content, etc. I am afraid, ChatGPT will cause an increase in these hotels’ dependency on the OTAs.

Generative AI will have a huge impact on everything we do in travel and hospitality, indeed!

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