Industry News
April 2, 20243 min read

From SEO to SGE: How GenAI is Transforming the Landscape of Travel Search

From SEO to SGE: How GenAI is Transforming the Landscape of Travel Search — Photo by Created by HN with DALL·E
Search Marketing Chatbots, Robotics & AI
By Simone Puorto, Founder | CEO | Futurist

Following the announcement that Google will abandon the "pay-per-stay" model for its metasearch products, the company has unveiled a series of enhancements to its travel services.

The foremost update introduces advancement to Google's Search Generative Experience (SGE), which allows users to employ GenAI to create comprehensive travel itineraries and trip suggestions. Currently available exclusively to English-speaking users in the US participating in the Search Labs program, this feature utilizes a wide range of internet sources, incorporating reviews, photographs, and additional data submitted by users on global destinations.

At this link, you can see SGE in action (courtesy of TechCrunch).

Currently, the service does not support direct booking of services or experiences (a limitation similar to what is observed in Europe for Google's travel-related services due to the DMA). However, upon finalizing itineraries, users can export these plans to Gmail, Docs, or Maps.

While Google has not revealed specific intentions for implementing this feature more widely, this development underscores Google's investigative efforts in deploying its AI technology across diverse areas.

This scenario is extensively discussed in my new book, "We Are the Glitch" (pre-orderable here), where I delve into what I call the "post-search era."

From SEO to SGE: How GenAI is Transforming the Landscape of Travel Search — Source: Travel SingularityFrom SEO to SGE: How GenAI is Transforming the Landscape of Travel Search — Source: Travel Singularity

Drawing parallels with Netflix's strategy of offering hyper-personalized content and presentation recommendations, the most successful companies today are those that can finely tune their content delivery, focusing not on quantity but on predictive accuracy and content generation. This shift towards a more personalized and anticipatory approach to content discovery is not limited to entertainment but is increasingly evident in e-commerce and information search platforms (including travel).

Platforms like TikTok and Reddit, leveraging deep learning algorithms and real-time data processing, already offer highly personalized user experiences, leading to a shift in user preferences, especially among younger demographics, away from traditional search engines like Google. This "search cubed" or perhaps "anti-search" paradigm, where results find the user rather than vice versa, suggests a fundamental shift in how web interfaces are conceived and utilized.

Hypothetically, conversational tools like ChatGPT or Claude could become the primary, or in some cases, the sole interface for web access, marking a pivotal change in the digital ecosystem towards a dynamic where AI assistants, powered by a plethora of APIs, become the central node of information aggregation and distribution, particularly in sectors like tourism.

This theoretical future envisages a web transformed from a collection of discrete sites and apps into a singular, omniscient conversational platform. To a certain extent, this is what Google might be trying to do with SGE.

As we move towards this generative web powered by sophisticated LLMs and driven by a new AI search paradigm, the traditional reliance on standalone websites and applications may become obsolete. Instead, we'll interact through a single conversational platform (or a combination of them), fundamentally transforming the World Wide Web's architecture and interface and aligning digital interaction more closely with human cognitive and conversational models.

Simone Puorto
Simone Puorto
Founder | CEO | Futurist

Travel Singularity