Google will now let you use AI to build travel itineraries for your vacations

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As we inch toward the summer holidays, Google is announcing a slate of travel updates that place it squarely in the travel planning process and give it a lot more insight into purchasing intent in the travel sector.

First up, Google is rolling out an update to its Search Generative Experience (SGE) that will allow users to build travel itineraries and trip ideas using AI, the company announced on Wednesday.

The new capability — currently only available in English in the U.S. to users enrolled in Search Labs, its program that lets users experiment with early-stage Google Search experiences and share feedback — draws on ideas from sites across the web, along with reviews, photos and other details that people have submitted to Google for places around the world.

When users ask for something like “plan me a three day trip to Philadelphia that’s all about history,” they will get a sample itinerary that includes attractions and restaurants, as well as an overview of options for flights and hotels, divided up by times of day.

For now, the itineraries are just that: There are no options to buy services or experiences on the spot. When you’re happy with your itinerary, you can export it to Gmail, Docs or Maps.

Google has not commented on when or if it might roll this out more widely. But it points to how the company is experimenting with how and where it can apply its AI engine. A lot of players in the travel industry may be eyeing up the role that generative AI will play in travel services in the coming years — some excitedly, some warily. But even now, startups like Mindtrip and Layla, which provide users with access to AI assistants that are designed to help you plan your trips, are already actively pursuing this.

But with this new update, Google is taking on startups like these while also gathering data about travel purchasing intent (useful for its wider ad business) and learning what kind of appetite its users might have for such services.

Image Credits: Google

Google also announced that it’s making it easier to discover lists of recommendations in Google Maps in select cities in the U.S. and Canada. If you search for a city in Maps, you will now see lists of recommendations for places to go from publishers like The Infatuation, as well as from other users. You will also see curated lists of top, trending, and hidden gem restaurants in 40+ U.S. cities.

Finally, the company is adding new tools to help you customize lists you create, so you can better organize your travel plans or share your favorite spots with your friends and family. You can choose the order the places appear in a list so you can organize them by top favorites or chronologically like an itinerary. Plus, you can link to content from your social channels.

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