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CON-X 2023: Wouter Geerts explores the future of travel, AI and creativity in the industry

Wouter Geerts


  • Dr. Wouter Geerts, Head of Research at SKIFT, highlights the potential of AI in revolutionizing hotel check-ins and travel planning, emphasizing its transformative power in the industry.
  • Geert emphasizes the importance of creativity in the travel industry and the need for new strategies to attract visitors, especially as pent-up demand wanes and consumer behavior shifts.
  • The changing nature of work and global travel flows, particularly in Asia, are influencing travel patterns, while investments in the industry and the availability of capital are creating opportunities for businesses to offer unique experiences.

In a recent presentation at the CON-X 2023 event, Dr. Wouter Geerts, Head of Research at SKIFT, shared his insights on the future of travel, focusing on AI and its impact on the industry. He began by discussing the potential of AI in hotel check-ins, highlighting an image created by a visionary AI that depicted a future where people would have three legs and hotel check-ins would be revolutionized.


However, Geerts emphasized that his talk would not be limited to AI alone, but would also touch upon broader trends in travel distribution and the need for creativity in the industry. He expressed his belief that this is an important time for creativity in travel, as people have come to realize the significance of travel for personal fulfilment, work, leisure, and overall well-being.

Geerts acknowledged that while travel has been performing well in recent years, the situation is becoming more challenging. He mentioned the end of pent-up demand and the drying up of pandemic savings, signalling a shift in consumer behaviour and the need for new strategies to attract visitors to destinations and hotels.

He also discussed the reinvention of the future of work and its influence on travel patterns. As the nature of work changes, so does how people travel. Additionally, Geerts highlighted the changing global flows of travelers, with Asia reopening and impacting travel preferences and destinations. He mentioned the resurgence of investments in travel and the availability of capital for businesses willing to provide unique offerings.

Geerts touched upon the potential transformative power of generative AI and its impact on various aspects of travel, particularly in travel planning and inspiration. He mentioned the value of AI in reputation management, customer support, and even coding, where AI can already contribute significantly. He estimated that AI could create around $8 billion in value for the travel industry, and this value could reach $20 billion if the industry becomes just 1% more efficient. 

However, Geerts also acknowledged the limitations of AI, emphasizing the importance of the human element in travel experiences. He cited examples such as the preference for human panelists over chatbots and the issue of over tourism, where AI solutions might not be suitable.

Overall, Geert's presentation shed light on the changing landscape of travel, the potential of AI, and the need for creativity and adaptation in the industry.