// . //  Insights //  Why Generative AI Is A Game Changer For Leisure Travel

Over the past year, generative artificial intelligence (AI) has quickly established its presence in the leisure travel industry. The technology is revolutionizing how consumers get their best ideas for vacations and then plan those trips, while democratizing access to comprehensive travel advice and bargains.

As capabilities expand, more consumers are discovering the tools and using them for more than just finding a convenient flight or comfortable hotel. The generative AI enthusiasts are increasingly relying on the technology to help them plan entire itineraries. This can include anything from swimming with dolphins in the Caribbean to figuring out which restaurants they need to reserve for their trip to Copenhagen.

Growing enthusiasm for generative AI in travel planning

Findings from our surveys of North American leisure travelers highlight the growing fervor for using generative AI applications to make trip planning easier: 41% of the nearly 2,100 consumers from the United States and Canada told our March 2024 survey that they had recently used generative AI tools for travel inspiration or itinerary planning. That is up from 34% of respondents in our August 2023 survey.

Exhibit 1: Respondents who recently used generative AI to assist with travel inspiration and/or itinerary planning
Percentage of total respondents
Source: Oliver Wyman August 2023 and March 2024 Generative AI Travel and Leisure surveys, Oliver Wyman analysis

Looking ahead, 58% of respondents and 82% of recent generative AI users said they are likely or very likely to use the technology for inspiration or itinerary planning again in the future. This indicates high levels of consumer satisfaction with generative AI tools, and the market should be confident and optimistic about prospects for growth going forward.

Exhibit 2: Future outlook on generative AI for travel inspiration, itinerary planning, and booking channel selection
Percentage of total respondents
Source: Oliver Wyman August 2023 and March 2024 Generative AI Travel and Leisure surveys, Oliver Wyman analysis

Five takeaways from our analysis and leisure traveler survey results 

  • Leisure travelers are increasingly using generative AI tools for trip inspiration and itinerary planning.
  • The most enthusiastic adopters tend to be younger, elite loyalty members, and people who like to take cruises
  • Generative AI has the capabilities to address existing trip inspiration and travel planning pain points for consumers, and users are recognizing that.
  • When choosing a generative AI tool, consumers have more confidence in those being offered by brands they frequently use or with which they have a loyalty program membership. The connection between brand loyalty and generative AI is likely to drive more direct bookings and ancillary revenue for brands that develop robust generative AI tools.
  • Generative AI makes it more likely that consumers will book a complete trip based on recommendations from the tool, increasing the average trip value for brands through sales of ancillary services and products and packaged travel offerings. That prospect should grow dramatically once travelers can book directly through generative AI tools.

Opportunities and risks for travel companies adopting generative AI

From the perspective of travel companies, there is significant opportunity and white space in the market to capitalize on growing consumer willingness to use generative AI. Those that act quickly to develop booking and personalization capabilities that meet the expectations of their loyal customers will benefit at the expense of those in the sector that drag their feet.

Our findings indicate that generative AI can be a mechanism for travel companies to connect with customers earlier in the planning process and use that engagement to show them what else they might consider. This should strengthen brand loyalty, improve conversions, and drive more direct bookings once that capability is available.  

But there are also risks from not being proactive. From an economic standpoint, our analysis revealed that more than $2 billion of commissions to online travel agencies could be at play in a scenario where suppliers largely continue to forgo investment in generative AI.

And the clock is ticking, considering the speed at which new technologies are adopted today. In other words, the time to embrace the technology is now, and the companies that do that effectively will be well-positioned to dominate leisure travel going forward.