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The Inevitability of AI Trip Planners

A few months ago, I was planning a trip to Croatia and approached a few online travel agents offering a customized holiday itinerary. I took the bait and filled in a few online forms, which triggered a handful of immediate emails letting me know a “travel professional” was working on my itinerary. An hour later, I had a 15-page PDF sent to me with a full itinerary for all the things I could do. 

This was supposedly from an expert human travel expert, but the process was obviously highly automated. It’s not hard to imagine AI taking the next step to fully automate this experience … and that’s what is already happening with a host of AI-driven travel planners being tested in the market right now. It’s a future I am conflicted about.

As a frequent and passionate traveler, I have also worked with amazing travel professionals who created magical experiences for my family that we would never have found or booked on our own. I have also been the unfortunate recipient of a travel plan that was (in hindsight) mostly automated and that I ended up overpaying for. 

There can be great value in putting your travel in the hands of a skilled professional who can not only handle logistics but also suggest and organize life-changing experiences. These global curators and the role they play will survive. On the other hand, the “cut and paste” travel professional who books off-the-shelf holiday packages may soon be displaced by automation. 

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