Personal AI Travel Itineraries Can’t Fully Deliver on the Promise of Personalization

Generative AI creates travel itineraries based on what everybody else has done, not what you’d like to do.


The travel and tourism industry is all about inspiring people to have meaningful, memorable experiences when visiting a destination. Destination management organizations (DMOs), attractions of all types, and even travel technology companies like Expedia are now turning to generative artificial intelligence (AI) to help them inspire travelers and attract visitors. Before you employ AI as your personal travel agent, however, consider its limitations alongside its opportunities.


No Shortage of Challenges


DMOs and other organizations throughout the travel and tourism industry face a series of aspirations that are, more or less, universal. The same concerns are on the minds of most people in the tourism industry:


  • How do we attract more visitors?
  • How do we get visitors to stay longer?
  • How do we increase repeat visits?
  • How do we encourage visitors to explore more?
  • How do we create new experiences for visitors?
  • How do we overcome overtourism?


At the center of these questions is the ultimate challenge: how do we create unique, story-worthy guest experiences? Restaurants, hotels, museums, visitor bureaus, attractions—everyone wants to create guest experiences that not only make guests want to return but also make guests want to tell others about their visit and, in turn, get those people to want to visit too. At its core, destination management is about creating experiences that are worthy of storytelling—and AI can help.


Generative AI Travel Itineraries


DMOs are beginning to turn to AI for assistance in overcoming challenges. Offering travelers prebuilt itineraries—what to do during a long weekend if you love golf or the top five must-see attractions for history buffs—has long been a standard practice, and now AI-generated travel itineraries are providing travelers with seemingly personalized recommendations. Say you love tennis; well, people who love tennis tend to do these other four things when visiting a particular destination. AI allows DMOs to personalize these recommendations a bit further, like Expedia’s use of chatbots to allow travelers to ask for recommendations when making bookings.


The trick is that these recommendations are not technically personal in that they’re not designed for one specific individual—you. Rather, they’re designed for a cohort of people like you, people who share one common interest. Generative AI looks at all the data sets it has, and it makes recommendations based on what you ask for. It’s also what everybody else has asked for. It will likely give you a decent experience that even feels like a personal recommendation, but that doesn’t mean it’s unique to you. A truly unique recommendation understands the overlap of your interests, not just something that’s meaningful to a cohort of people with a shared interest.


From Persona to Personal


The real opportunity for DMOs to inspire memorable guest experiences is by using AI to create uniquely personal recommendations. It requires AI that can understand your guests’ interests and their implicit and explicit behaviors. It makes a subtle but powerful difference to offer recommendations based on the overlap of people’s interests rather than simply targeting one generic interest area.


AI like LighthousePE can create itineraries, experiences, and communications that are truly personal to individuals on a one-to-one scale. It identifies correlations between multiple interests to offer unique experiences that are only important to that individual. DMOs can use LighthousePE to automatically provide uniquely personal recommendations to guests at timely, location-based moments or when directly asked for recommendations.


For example, you’re visiting Sedona, Arizona, and you love restaurants and history. When Expedia personalizes your booking, it recommends great restaurants that everybody gives five-star reviews on Yelp—and there’s value there. LighthousePE, however, can correlate your love of restaurants and history to recommend the House of Joy, a five-star restaurant that was a brothel in the 1800s, in nearby Jerome, Arizona. It’s an off-the-beaten-path destination uniquely chosen for someone who loves history and food.


AI and Your Destination


As you explore ways to use AI, focus on finding unique experiences that are truly meaningful to individuals on a one-to-one basis rather than identifying experiences targeted toward general interest groups. When experiences are truly personal, they create moments during travel that become lifelong memories—and that’s what I want DMOs to experience with LighthousePE: uniquely personalized experiences that create lifelong memories for guests.


If you’d like to learn more about how your destination can use AI to its advantage, contact me at [email protected] or book a time to speak with me.

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