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ChatGPT in Tourism Marketing

A quick note: I’ve worked to make this post as free of tech speak as possible. The fact that I’ve been up since for 22 hours may have helped. 

Being someone that works in “that internet stuff” a lot, I’ve been asked countless times over the past few months year about ChatGPT and how it impacts tourism marketing. As a result, I’ve developed a perspective and I’m now ready to share it.

For those unfamiliar with ChatGPT, buckle up.

ChatGPT is an online tool that lets you type in any question and receive real-time answers as long as 500 words. On the fly, it can write poems and lyrics, play games, and even troubleshoot code. It’s incredibly intuitive and convincingly human-like. For example, here’s how it describes itself when you ask it:

“Hello! I am ChatGPT, a language model developed by OpenAI based on the GPT-3.5 architecture. I am designed to generate human-like responses to various prompts and questions. You can think of me as a computer program that uses advanced natural language processing algorithms to understand and respond to written text.”

The applications for this type of tool are endless. One can incorporate it into their website for real-time chat support. Some use it for research that far surpasses the speed and quality of Google search results. Unfortunately, it’s also the awesome book report writer, so teachers across the country are struggling with how to figure that one out. But for this article, I’ll talk specifically about ChatGPT in tourism marketing: how it can be used, and its pros and cons.

The Good News…

There are several ways in which ChatGPT can be brought into tourism marketing, including:

Personalized recommendations. ChatGPT can be used to provide personalized recommendations to tourists based on their preferences and travel history. This can help tourism marketers to offer customized travel packages and experiences, which can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Chatbots. ChatGPT can be used to develop chatbots that can interact with customers in real time and provide them with information about destinations, attractions, and travel options. This can help tourism marketers to engage with customers and provide them with a more interactive and engaging experience.

Content creation. ChatGPT can be used to create content for tourism marketing campaigns, such as blog posts, social media updates, and email newsletters. This can help tourism marketers to produce high-quality content quickly and efficiently, which can improve their marketing efforts.

Translation. ChatGPT can be used to translate marketing materials into multiple languages—in many cases, better than other translation tools, which can help tourism marketers to reach a global audience and expand their customer base.

Predictive analytics. ChatGPT can be used to analyze customer data and predict travel trends, which can help tourism marketers to develop more effective marketing strategies and campaigns.

There are obvious advantages to using an online tool to automate tasks (see my article on Doing More with Less), including:

  1. Availability: ChatGPT can be available 24/7, which makes it convenient for tourists who might have questions or need assistance outside of regular business hours.
  2. Cost-effective: ChatGPT can be a cost-effective way to provide customer service and support to tourists without requiring additional staff.
  3. Scalability: ChatGPT can handle multiple conversations at the same time, making it scalable for large volumes of inquiries.

The Bad News…

So, all of that is great, right? Well, in theory. ChatGPT has only been live since late November 2022. It’s still in its infancy and it shows in a few ways:

Lack of human touch. ChatGPT still lacks the human touch and empathy that a human customer service representative can provide. This can be particularly important in the tourism industry, where personal interaction can play a vital role in creating a positive experience for tourists.

Limited context. ChatGPT might not be able to understand the nuances and complexities of every situation, particularly if there is a language barrier or cultural differences.

Technical issues. ChatGPT can experience technical issues, such as connectivity problems or software glitches, which can negatively impact the user experience.

Limited to text-based interactions. ChatGPT is limited to text-based interactions, which might not be suitable for every tourist’s communication preference.

My take from all of this is that there may very well be a future for ChatGPT in tourism marketing, but the ability to work it straight into day-to-day marketing activities is still pretty limited. Destination marketing is all about creating human connections and AI apps just aren’t to the level yet where we can trust them to lead the conversation.


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Patrick King

Patrick is the Founder of Imagine and advisor to places on brand strategy and creative. His insights have been published in Inc. Magazine, SmartCEO, Washington Business Journal, The Washington Post, and Chief Marketer, among other publications, and shared at conferences throughout the US. He also has an amazing sock collection.

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