How to Develop AI-Based Travel App

Updated on:
29.04.2024
5.0
773
8 min

The global travel industry is still recovering from the shake-ups caused by COVID and all the geopolitical events. At the same time, the niche is spawning, introducing, and adopting revolutionary tech powers. Today’s AI travel apps easily become your virtual guides and assistants to help plan out every step of a unique journey.

We have leveraged these powers in one of our latest projects — a mobile app with smart flight search features and a built-in AI assistant for trip planning. Users need only answer a few questions about their trip to receive a personalized guide to attractions, services, and sights along their route.

Why Does Tourism Need AI?

Much of the tourism industry relies on live emotions, impressions, and human connections. It might seem that AI has no place or need here. But the reality is quite the opposite — machine learning technologies and neural networks can take over routines and cumbersome tasks, offering a new level of travel experience.

For travel planning apps, AI grants some truly outstanding capacities. Generative assistants and algorithms can map out travel routes, automatically book and reschedule flights, compare different offers based on dozens of parameters, and much more. And for businesses — airlines and hotels, data science opens up new levels of demand forecasting, market trends inspection, and user behavior analysis.

No wonder we can see the rapid rates at which smart tech in tourism is expanding. Back in 2021, an IndustryARC report predicted a 9.7% annual growth rate for the AI market in the tourism and hospitality industry. The total market value was forecasted to exceed $1.2 billion by 2026. However, these estimates were made before the release of ChatGPT and the boom in generative AI solutions, which have given the AI arena an extra push.

An IDC study shows that today, 86% of major airlines have launched collaborative projects to create custom AI, machine learning, and computer vision solutions for various purposes. 39% of these airlines are already utilizing these advanced products and tools in practice. The hospitality business is betting on AI in a major way, with about 40% of technology investments in this sector focused on predictive algorithms.

All signs point to AI becoming the future tech backbone of the entire travel industry. New technologies will continue to make tourism more accessible, convenient, and service-packed. For businesses, investing in AI is a great way to design unique user experiences and stand out among competitors while also cutting down costs and inefficiencies.

Voyage: A virtual assistant for tourists

All the theory is great, but what about the practice and field applications of all the above in particular? Recently, the WEZOM team had the opportunity to work on just the project — an app called Voyage. 

Voyage combines the functionality of a traditional flight ticket aggregator with smart tech to facilitate user experiences during travel. Since the project is under NDA, "Voyage" is a placeholder name; the real product is named differently. This review’s focus is on the underlying solutions and technologies. 

How exactly did we employ advanced technology in this AI travel app? Let’s take a look.

About the project

A client approached us with a startup idea: They saw the potential to evolve traditional hotel and flight booking apps using AI. Today’s market houses many such solutions, which usually offer an all-in-one interface to browse options from various airlines and tour operators.

The client's idea was to enhance this baseline functionality with a virtual assistant that would help users personally plan their leisure and activities while traveling. The assistant would also provide beforehand information on available infrastructure, services, transportation, entertainment, etc. 

Previously, travelers would watch travel blogs to learn all the life hacks and "pitfalls" of a new trip. Today, AI can gather and structure this information automatically in a matter of seconds.

Development task

Our team was tasked with turning the client's idea into a finished product. This resulted in a cross-platform mobile application for Android and iOS that allows users to book flights and generate a personalized travel guide by answering a few simple questions.

This goal required addressing several tasks, including:

  • Building functionality to aggregate offers from leading tour operators and airlines in a single interface, with the capability to instantly book the most suitable option.
  • Developing a unique AI algorithm to generate a user guide due to the lack of ready-made solutions with the necessary capabilities on the market today.
  • Integrating APIs for tourism companies at the backend level of the app so that users could receive only up-to-date information on travel activities.
  • Implementing a mechanism for composing the guide using generative AI. The generated recommendations can be visualized in an accessible format and saved in various formats for user convenience.

Technology stack

We use the Dart-based Flutter framework in order to develop sophisticated cross-platform applications. It offers numerous developer advantages, such as a user-friendly SDK and a Hot Reload mechanism that significantly speeds up development. On top of that, Flutter runs on a custom graphics engine, enabling the creation of advanced animations and other micro-interactions.

For implementing a smart recommendation system, we utilized Python, the TensorFlow machine learning library, and the high-level Keras API. These are modular and flexible tools that allow for building, fine-tuning, and scaling deep learning algorithms for all sorts of scenarios. In our project, this tech stack enabled us to train a business AI model in just a few weeks, achieving high levels of accuracy and completeness.

Design

User experience and usability are cornerstones of user-focused AI travel planner apps. Our designers faced the challenge of combining the familiar airline ticket search functionality with innovative AI capabilities. The majority of the screens in the Voyage app are intuitively understandable to users experienced with the most basic travel apps.

For the AI-based functionality, the team made every effort to create a seamless user experience while leveraging the product’s unique features. There are no complex settings: To receive tips and guidance, users simply complete a brief interactive quiz.

The creation and approval of design prototypes were swift, reflecting our team's experience in developing mobile applications for tour operators. The team moved to the technical development stage in less than a month.

Application features

What makes the product created by our team unique and competitive? Let’s go a bit deeper into the features of the Voyage app.

  • At first glance, the platform might not seem much different from other top ticket aggregators. Users enter a search query and get a list of routes from various airlines and tour operators. They can then filter and sort these offers and proceed to booking. This functionality is implemented using traditional algorithms without the use of AI.
  • The "magic" starts after booking airline tickets and a hotel. Users can navigate to the events screen, which is designed to help plan the trip. For this, tourists provide the AI vacation planner with some context by choosing the format and timing of their trip and specifying their interests and service preferences. This interactive quiz takes a few seconds to complete.
  • A special AI algorithm then generates a list of suitable attractions, places, and events at the travel location (for example, tours, shopping, nightclubs, etc.). Users can choose what interests them and plan their vacation in just a few clicks.

AI functionality in our AI app

Voyage's smart algorithms deserve separate attention, shaping and driving the app's competitive edge. How is a unique travel guide created for each user? Let's highlight a few key points.

  • Information on travel activities is not sourced from Wikipedia or outdated references. Instead, the backend of the app integrates the API of the GetYourGuide tourist service. The algorithm only delivers up-to-date information, including prices, routes, event durations, and participation conditions. This effectively creates a "service within a service," which will expand as the app evolves.
  • Once the list of activities is set, AI generates a personalized travel guide for the user in the form of a concise text document. We used ChatGPT to design the guide. The final document can be saved as an e-voucher or a PDF file.

As experience shows, this straightforward mechanism effectively engages users, encouraging them to return to the app throughout their journey. After all, they no longer need to Google tourist locations or search for the nearest café on maps — the AI takes care of it all autonomously.

Results

It took our team no more than five months to develop the app with all the custom vacation planning tools it packs. Its release on Android and iOS went exceptionally well: Despite extremely active competition, the Voyage platform has taken off and is consistently gaining new users. 

Three months after its launch, the app has achieved 50,000 downloads, and the number continues to grow. The audience has warmly received the product, with user ratings of 4.9 on the App Store and a perfect 5 out of 5 on the Play Market.

In this case, a tour planner app concept has grown into a smart source of unique and convenient travel experiences that shines in a market crowded with generic flight aggregator platforms.

Bottom Line

The case of Voyage demonstrates just a fraction of what AI can help achieve in the travel industry. Even now, our client is planning further developments for the app: Smart algorithms could also be used to find the best real-time deals, automatically book tickets and tours tailored to user requests, forecast prices, and handle many other tasks in the tourism business.

Artificial intelligence allows for building an unprecedented level of traveler’s service. It is clear that operators and travel services that adopt this technology among the first will be the new kings of the market.

By the way, thanks to this case, Topdevelopers awarded us as one of the Leading App Development Companies in USA. Check it out!

If you're interested in such opportunities for your business, don't hesitate to waste time. Contact our experts now — we are ready and eager to share experience and help build your next big app.

Michael
Interested in a custom mobile solution?
Of course, this will require some financial investment from you at the beginning of the path to automation, but over time, this approach usually fully pays off. I can talk about it in detail.
How do you rate this article?
5.0
Voted: 1
We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. You can find out more in our policy.