It’s all the buzz right now, not just in tourism marketing but in any industry where content creation is both essential, and a timely and costly necessity. We’re talking of course of ChatGPT, and other generative AI tools like image and video creators.
Seemingly coming from nowhere unless you were already heavily invested in the field, these tools have turned the world of content creation upside down. Now someone with no copywriting experience can coax a social media post or blog out of a practically magical AI tool. Similarly, a few well-worded prompts can generate a photo-realistic image or heavily stylised illustration to be used in a campaign or on a website. Never mind that sometimes the content written is a lie, “hallucinated” by the AI (to use AI researcher) terms, or that most image models still make a nightmarish mess of things like hands, these tools are just a glimpse into the future, and what might be available in the coming years.
We’re not going to go into how they work, we’d rather just enjoy the fact that right now you can get some (possibly accurate) content written by ChatGPT. You can even ‘prime’ to tool by giving it prompts like “you are an incredibly descriptive writer, known for long and philosophical metaphors” and it will follow your created style perfectly. A recent leaving speech at Maverick was written this way, in the form of a poem after some similar prompting. It should be noted that the rhyming structure was loose at best.
The question is, what is next for AI tools. How will we be using their next iterations in the tourism marketing world, which might only be just around the corner?
Search is an obvious starting point, and one where Microsoft (a major investor in Open Ai, the creators of ChatGPT) has jumped head first into. They have already integrated the newest language model GPT-4 into a version of Bing to give conversational and contextual answers right into search. In some ways this is the natural progression of search tools – being able to ask a specific question and getting an answer right away rather than tweaking keywords or going to Quora or Reddit from the search results seems like a no brainer. The problem of course is that search engines generate the vast majority of income from Search Ads. If the Ai tool is giving answers without encouraging ad clicks, then the whole model falls apart. Other questions like dropping traffic (and ad revenue) for publishers as well as the inability to verify answers as accurate makes this a tricky one. Despite all the negatives, this is where early battlelines are being drawn between tech giants and where a lot of questions are being brought to life about the long-term use of large language models.
Tourism marketing takeaway: Watch this space! Trying to get your business into the data sets for these models is going to turn the SEO world upside down. One thing to remember though – the vast majority of revenue for these companies comes from ads (80% of Google’s 2022 revenue). Because of this, the Search ad space will continue to be essential to focus on for tourism businesses looking to capture travel intent.
In a futuristic reality, these tools would be used for endless, automatically-generated social content. Social media is an incredibly important part of the tourism booking process, where aspirational content hooks in dreamers, and shared photos and stories from friends and family act as strong endorsements for destinations and experiences. The personal touch could however soon be taken out of the process – after watching a couple of videos or interacting with a couple of posts/tweets, AI would be able to continuously generate and serve content tailor made to keep you engaged and entertained endlessly. The algorithms perfected by the likes of TikTok that know just what to serve you to keep you on the app for one video longer will be working in tandem with generation tools to provide the perfect feed. This creates a rather existential question: What is social media without the social element?
Tourism marketing takeaway: Genuine interaction is still the most important factor for social media, where operators can generate interest and turn visitors into ambassadors. Keep encouraging social engagement and user generated content, and use your brand to tell a genuine story. Right now, we recommend using ChatGPT for inspiration and suggested social media posts – but be sure to adapt these into your own brand tone of voice, and ensure copy is factual and reliable.
A useful and exciting application of Ai for tourism marketing is in data analysis. With services becoming able to view and analyse images, there is now opportunity for analysis of tables, graphs, and any other data you can throw together. Auto-generated reports could come with commentary rather than just numbers, tied to any number of information models giving analysis nuanced enough to go from hyper-local issues to global tourism trends or events.
Our friends at Yonder are already using GPT as a tool for summarising reviews for their clients. Their use of the tool analyses the dozens or hundreds of tourism reviews that a product or company gets, and automatically pulls out succinct and useful summaries. Ka pai!
Tourism marketing takeaway: Prepare for easier access to information. Reporting will be able to be far more customised, with more focus on what matters to you as a business. Until then, keep relying on the experts for the analysis!
An AI created Pizza Ad took the internet by storm last week, using a number of readily available tools to script and ‘shoot’ (generate) an ad for a made-up Pizza place. The result is nightmarish with eyes and mouths that don’t work right, and cheese pouring is a truly unsettling way, however the end result is truly amazing when you consider just how new the tools are. Marvel Avengers director Joe Russo predicted that AI generated movies are only a couple of years away, which is a strong endorsement for the progression of the technology.
What this means for people not looking to make terrifying online videos is that the cost and issues around filming disappear. If short AI generated content is ‘good enough’, then the cost of entry for businesses looking to do short video ads disappears. Even if it just good enough to improve your existing footage, then older low-res footage can suddenly be upscaled to HD or an overcast day is instantly sunny and bright. There is however the question of who owns the content generated by AI tools – and who is responsible for any legal or ethical issues that may arise.
Tourism marketing takeaway: Start thinking of all your campaigns as fully-multi channel. What messaging and visuals are going to resonate with each of your audience on each platform. Even before the tools get good enough, this will help you have better conversations with your ad managers on what a Gold Standard campaign will look like.