GuideGeek: The Unprecedented Rise of AI for Travel Planning

Smartphone demonstration of Guidegeek

The AI-driven travel assistant, Guide Geek and Others

By Esther Akinsola

Conversation between Esther and the text format platform
Conversation between Esther and the text format platform

In 1993, Dr. Auliana Poon, in her book Tourism, Technology and Competitive Strategies, predicted that travel and technology will go hand in hand.

This and many other predictions about the impact of technology had little or no effect on the operations of the industry until after the pandemic. OTAs and travel technology companies began to find ways to meet the ever-increasing customer demands and streamline their operations.

The explosion in the adoption of ChatGPT, an OpenAI product launched in November 2022, has led to more disruptive use of AI and, by extension, the travel and tourism industry.

Championing this is Matador Network, with the launch of its personal travel assistant GuideGeek. There, travelers are able to access answers and accurate information to travel-related questions within seconds by messaging with the AI on WhatsApp.

What is GuideGeek?

CEO, Matador Network Ross Borden
CEO, Matador Network Ross Borden

Matador Network CEO Ross Borden recounted how the travel industry has been stuck in the dark ages since the ’90s and has remained rigid.

He believes that “AI will be the key to the future of travel and a catalyst for many long-overdue changes to the industry. It is quickly going to transform the entire travel funnel, top to bottom.”

The travel assistant eliminates large-scale research and analysis, and though not intended to stop recommendations from family and friends, the text conversation platform has proved to be an on-demand travel planner. It is available in all the regions of the world in 40 languages.

GuideGeek advises travel enthusiasts and travelers on daily travel budgets, visa information, deals, local customs, excursions, hotels, and Airbnbs, and develops custom itineraries.

Guidegeek thinks of every question a human virtual assistant would find answers to without sounding like a robot.

With questions like, “How can I get to Rome from Valencia?” travelers receive responses from the AI curated by travel experts at Matador and additional travel data from the internet.

The GuideGeek Difference

Using Guidegeek
Using Guidegeek

Aaron Barnes, an Instagram influencer, shared his terrible experience finding travel tips and insight before he began to use GuideGeek. “I wasn’t sure what I expected from GuideGeek as I had never used such an interactive program for travel before. I had been used to relying on Google or TikTok to find answers to my questions or give me recommendations but had generally been disappointed by the responses and also the time I had to spend researching.”

I decided to give it a try and asked GuideGeek, “I’m traveling to San Francisco in the summer, what do I need to know?”

I got a response with helpful tips on the weather, attractions, transportation, and food in San Francisco.

The travel assistant is intuitive as it easily draws on data based on the questions asked. One of the drawbacks I’ve experienced with some AI tools is prompting – identifying when and how to construct the right prompts to get the right output.

A Sneak Peek into the Future

A custom itinerary built by Guidegeek
A custom itinerary built by Guidegeek

Borden explained that the long-term goal for GuideGeek is to become a trusted platform for travel planning and travel bookings. While the chatbot highlights the importance of personalization, Borden said it will heavily draw data from user history and remain free for consumers.

GuideGeek is inclusive as travelers can find information on traveling with children and people with disabilities. It is also available in 40 languages all over the world.

GuideGeek integrates other platforms such as Skyscanner, which gives users access to real-time flight information and booking links.

The thousands of videos owned by Matador will also be incorporated into GuideGeek to provide travelers with an immersive experience. The ability for travelers to message GuideGeek on Instagram is also coming soon.

While there are many developments and refining going on with the use of AI, Seth Borko of Skift expressed his optimism, saying, “In the future, there’s a world where you would go to ChatGPT and say, “Hi, what is the best flight for my needs and can you help me book it for under $500?” GuideGeek hopes to achieve this and many more features soon. 

“I really did not know what to expect from GuideGeek. I thought it was going to be helpful but I really did not expect it to be this useful for daily planning in foreign countries,” chef and entrepreneur Micheal Motamedi stated in an email.

“But I was wrong, It feels like you have access to a friend who is a local, the only difference is that you don’t have to buy GuideGeek any drinks.”


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