person holding mobile phone reflecting disruptive shifts in travel search created by ai application from google and meta

The travel industry, worth an estimated $9.5 trillion in 2023, has long been a prime target for tech giants like Google and Meta. With AI, they aim to capture a larger share of the lucrative travel market. AI has the potential to significantly influence how consumers research and plan their trips, steering them away from traditional discovery platforms and reshaping the entire user journey.

NB: This is an article from Search Engine Land

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This article explores the rise of AI assistants in the travel space, their capabilities and how they could impact travel brands’ visibility and marketing strategies moving forward.

Google and Meta’s push for AI-driven travel planning

Google has previously worked to capture as much of the travel market as possible through SERP features, including the Hotels and Flights search and booking features.

AI Overviews (formerly SGE) have also been focused on the travel sector, with Google featuring them in their March 2024 The Keyword Blog.

The launch of AI Overviews has had a rocky start (to say the least), but we need to accept that AI is a large part of Google’s future in Search and other parts of their product ecosystem.

While much attention is paid to AI Overviews affecting website traffic, I think the bigger issue is how Google and Meta’s AI products change the way users discover and research online.

Meta AI is currently in beta in selected countries, but based on testing, it can rival Google’s AI offerings.

Meta also plans to launch the product on Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, meaning market penetration will instantly increase to two billion monthly active users with access to Meta AI.

On the Meta AI website, they intend Meta AI to play an active part in group chats (across the various platforms) to let people plan and prepare outings, meet-ups and trip itineraries – but in a group experience, so rather than Googling and sending links within chats, the group can be involved in the discovery process.

Why is this important?

While we have speculated and looked at how AI Overviews may impact traffic, Meta AI has the potential to steer users away from what might have previously been a Google Search and keep them within the Meta ecosystem.

When users eventually leave the Meta ecosystem and move to Google, they may already be much further along their journey.

For example, if I engage with Gemini and ask it to show me “family-friendly European vacations,” I get destination recommendations. If I continue the conversation and narrow my search for family-friendly, all-inclusive resorts in Greece, I get further recommendations.

Read the full article at Search Engine Land