Traveling to new frontiers: Is AI the key to taking the stress out of travel plans? 

T.S. Elliott said it is “the journey, not the destination,” that matters, but perhaps this is not the case when it comes to planning a vacation. With timelines to organize, budgets to consider and reservations to make, the journey can be a hassle – and expensive.

Enter Hopper’s new artificial intelligence app feature called Flex Watch. Hopper, an app that helps consumers determine the cheapest times to buy their flights, decided to up its game by adding an AI feature in September of this year (FastCompany.com, 14 September 2017). Flex Watch is essentially a predictive travel agent that delivers notifications when it finds ideal flight prices, in a selected date range, to a destination of the customers’ loosely defined parameters. If a user sets, say, “Europe” as an option, Flex Watch might alert them when an advantageous flight to Amsterdam hits the market.

Hopper uses data to predict and analyze airfare while monitoring customers’ preferences over time in order to suggest locations that they’re most likely to agree with. In addition to Flex Watch, Hopper has a feature called Fair Bear that helps to break down all of the fine print that often accompanies basic, lower-cost flights. Fair Bear aims to help travelers avoid hidden fees by highlighting the costs associated with various amenities that are typically included in more traditional flights, like carry-on bags and seat selection.

While some consumers may be hesitant to throw their travel plans into the hands of artificial intelligence, more adventurous Conscious Consumers may see it as an opportunity that marries convenience and spontaneity. But it can also help them with the vary real issue of affordability. Brands in the travel and destination space will be smart to keep an eye on its use as an indication of whether consumers are keeping an open mind to more nontraditional, innovative approaches to travel planning.

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