AI tour guide: Filipino travelers turn to artificial intelligence tools for travel plans

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
AI tour guide: Filipino travelers turn to artificial intelligence tools for travel plans
Traveling using AI.
Art by Philstar.com / Enrico Alonzo

MANILA, Philippines — With the boom of artificial intelligence tools, Filipino travelers like Anne Real, 35, are crafting travel plans like never before.

Anne, who has traveled to five countries so far, said she personally uses popular AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT when she is creating an itinerary for her travels. She first discovered this from online travel community group Hangout Buddies.

For Anne, ChatGPT’s travel suggestions only serve as the “skeleton” of the itinerary.

“It’s a good place to start especially if you don’t have any experience traveling or making an itinerary,” Anne said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“It’s also responsive. For example, if I don’t like its Day 2 itinerary suggestion for Singapore that includes Universal Studios Singapore (USS), I’ll just reply to ChatGPT by typing ‘without USS.’ And then, the results will be amended,” she also said.

Like Anne, 35-year-old Ric, who has visited the 82 provinces of the Philippines and eight countries so far, has also been using ChatGPT in his travel planning since June this year.

“I have an upcoming trip to Brunei and Kota Kinabalu this November, and I used ChatGPT to make an itinerary including transportation, hotel accommodation, tourist places to visit and all. And to be fair, if you just include all the correct words during the search, it will definitely give you all the needed information. And it only took almost a minute to complete. Really amazing,” Ric said in an online interview with Philstar.com.

Ric said that using ChatGPT provides a stream of endless information and possibilities. However, he shared that this could also be its “downfall” given the credibility of the results.

“I tried using it also for my other upcoming trips and even for my previous trips, but it showed, I think, maybe 50% accurate and reliable [results],” he said.

Edel San, another traveler based in Manila, who visited eight Asian countries, said that she uses another AI-powered chatbot called Bard, developed by Google.

“I've been hearing a lot about ChatGPT but I haven't actually tried it. Then there's Bard early this year and I tried to ask for travel tips to Cambodia. I think one needs to ask specific questions to get the right amount of answers. My question was a bit vague. ‘Travel plan to Siem Reap.’ Bard gave me a three-day plan though which was cool,” she said.

The Motley Fool, a private financial and investing advice company, reported that AI is being used for recommendations, booking, forecasting, flying improvements and itineraries.

It cited that since the travel industry is one of the biggest advertising verticals on Google search, many are using AI to seek for recommendations. Chatbots and AI assistants are now being deployed by airlines and other travel companies to assist travelers on social media.  

The advice company also said that travelers are now using booking platforms for their accommodations and flights which predict customer behaviors and are providing more personalized suggestions.

Why human touch still matters

Given these developments, the Filipino travelers Philstar.com interviewed said they will continue using and recommending the usage of AI tools in their future travels as it helps travelers create a list of activities and places to visit.

Anne, however, said that the itineraries offered by AI tools are very broad so she recommends tweaking the itinerary suggested based on the personal preference of the tourists.

Ric also cited that ChatGPT is still a business and may not show all the desired results.

“I guess somehow, it would show results that are favorable to their, maybe, advertisers, clients or affiliated businesses making the result market selective,” Ric said.

“I would like to see maybe a thread for people who actually used ChatGPT and followed the result religiously for their trip and then have it rated and show feedback from the users if it's really a good and recommendable itinerary to follow,” he added.

Despite this, Ric said he would still recommend it as it can serve as a reference guide and provide good suggestions for the tourists.

“It's only up to the users to make additional research to verify the accuracy of the result. But all in all, it's a good research tool,” he concluded.

Tourism Congress of the Philippines, a private sector consultative body which assists the government in the development and implementation of tourism policies, likewise said that their group, composed of tourism enterprises, has accepted the use of AI by do-it-yourselfers travelers.

Bob Zozobrado, TCP president, said that while they welcome the AI use, they are seeing that these travelers would continue to seek for travel agents’ service.

“We are confident that sooner than soon, these DIYs will avail of travel agents’ service once again as they’ll realize that nothing beats having a travel agent/tour operator personally help them with their itineraries and tickets. In fact, a survey was made early this year by a scholar from Oxford University showing that 76% of these DIYs have realized that:

  • If their flights are cancelled, nobody is there to help them.
  • They’re not sure that the hotels they book online are the best for the money they paid.
  • They’re not sure that the air fares they paid for online are really the cheapest because airlines also have local promos offered to travel agents.
  • They miss the human touch and personalized service of a travel agent before, during and after their trip,” Zozobrado told Philstar.com in a text message.

According to a survey of global travel agency network Virtuoso reported by Forbes in January, there is a growing demand for and increased value of an expert advisor who can “save travelers time  travelers time, energy and the headache of sitting on the phone for hours with customer assistance.” 

It cited that 76% of travelers including millennials and Gen Zs are turning to travel advisors’ expertise to avoid being inconvenienced in their travels. 

Virtuoso specializes in luxury and experiential travel and is a by invitation-only organization comprising of 1,200 travel agency with over 20,000 travel advisors in over 50 countries globally. 

AI is getting better

Amid concerns over the use of AI in travels, Dominic Ligot, founder and chief technology officer of social impact technology company CirroLytix, said that he doesn’t see disadvantages to it as long as people check and verify the suggestions provided.

“AI tools are useful in planning trips. Chatbots are useful in summarizing travel blogs and articles and putting together itineraries quickly,” Ligot told Philstar.com.

“Previous versions of AI chatbots were based on old information but current versions are connected to the internet and provide citations and are getting better every day,” he concluded.

This is why travelers like Edel would keep harnessing the power of AI tools during travels.

“I mean, it's like having a Lonely Planet book on hand when you need it,” Edel concluded.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with