Which AI trip planning tool is the best? Here’s how Expedia’s and Booking.com’s compared.

Which AI trip planning tool is the best? Here’s how Expedia’s and Booking.com’s compared.


  • Expedia Group’s Romie and Booking.com’s AI Trip Planner are AI-powered travel tools that can help travelers plan and manage their trips.
  • Both tools can recommend destinations, places to stay, and things to do and even create a full itinerary for your trip.
  • However, these AI travel planners are still in their early stages and can’t yet be relied on completely.

This new travel advisor can help travelers plan and manage their trip – and then come with them on vacation.

Expedia Group revealed a new AI assistant last month that users can access anytime via their phones. Named Romie, the alpha version available now via Expedia’s iOS app in the U.S., can help build itineraries, summarize travel plans discussed in group chats, warn customers of trip disruptions and more.

Jeff Miller, Distinguished Product Manager at Expedia Group, said “travel is a complicated business and part of the complexity is about orchestrating and managing all the parts of your trip.” The company previously introduced a travel planning feature powered by ChatGPT last year, but the new assistant marks an expansion of its AI capabilities.

“Romie’s job is to meet you where you are, not wait for you to come,” he said. The feature uses the same OpenAI models that power ChatGPT, but Expedia is “open to using other tech or models” as well.

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Romie is the latest AI-powered travel tool, joining other travel platforms utilizing the technology to make a seamless, more customized experience for travelers. In an Oct. 2023 Booking.com survey of more than 27,000 travelers across 33 countries, 56% said they want to use AI to help inform upcoming travels.

Last summer, Booking.com launched its own AI Trip Planner, which also uses ChatGPT to help travelers find accommodations and build out personalized itineraries.

“Imagine having a conversation (with) the AI Trip Planner and being able to render or change what you see (on the Booking.com website) to match the content of your conversation,” Angela Cavis, Global Communications & PR, North America for Booking.com, told USA TODAY. “The hyper-personalization, really, can be supercharged to make your travel planning more productive, much easier.”

USA TODAY’s Nathan Diller and Kathleen Wong tested Romie’s itinerary-building capabilities against Booking.com’s AI Trip Planner to see what it’s like using AI to plan a trip to Rome from Sept. 9-12. Here’s what they found.

What is it like to use Romie?

I started by making a hotel booking on Expedia, which users currently need to use Romie’s itinerary-building features. iPhone users in the U.S. can opt-in to access the early version of Romie via the EG Labs section of the Expedia app, but the company does not yet have a public launch date.

I reserved a room at Suitedreams – just under $627 for three nights in September – with an “excellent” rating and over 1,000 reviews. Then I phoned a friend (or AI assistant, rather) to help with the rest. 

When I clicked through to my itinerary, Romie suggested restaurants near the hotel unprompted, with distances listed. When I clicked on one, it took me to a chat function where I could see various restaurants’ Yelp ratings, hours of operation and other info. I could peruse certain details from there, but other buttons moved me to the Yelp app.

Romie cannot currently complete restaurant reservations for users, but I was able to add bookings to my itinerary by telling the chatbot when I’d be eating. Miller emphasized that Romie is not “just automatically charging your credit card on your behalf.”

“We don’t think that experience is quite ready yet, let’s put it that way,” he said. “But we do think that we can still guide you to be able to take action for yourselves.”

Romie also recommended “some of the best things to do” in Rome, like the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums. The chatbot was also able to suggest bookstores when I asked and give me directions to one I selected. When I requested other activities near my hotel, Romie provided a number of tours I could book through the Expedia app.

I did run into some hiccups when I clicked on the Colosseum option Romie listed on my itinerary page. The AI program pulled up a “B&B in Rome 2 stops from” the landmark, even though I already had a hotel. When I clicked on the listing, it took me to what looked like an external website that suggested I book it on Airbnb – a competitor to Expedia Group’s Vrbo.

When I asked whether I needed tickets for the Vatican Museums, Romie said yes, sharing a website where I could buy them. But the URL was not hyperlinked and I could not click through, nor could I copy and paste it from my phone, meaning I’d have to manually type it into my browser.

Curious to try another method of communication, I added Romie to my phone contacts to use its text message feature. Romie was similarly able to recommend coffee shops near my hotel that way, but this time, I had to tell the bot where I was staying. Unlike in the app, it did not have my booking information.

I also requested help with booking a rental car. Romie acknowledged my parameters – my travel dates and the budget I shared – and sent me an Expedia link. However, when I clicked on it, I was shown hotel listings.

At one point, I asked for a full itinerary for my three-night trip. Romie asked about my interests – I listed food, historical sites and art – and offered a detailed plan with activity and dining suggestions for the morning, afternoon and evening. I tried that separately with the in-app chat function and was given less of a true itinerary than a list of things to do.

“Launching an early version of Romie in EG Labs provides registered participants with the opportunity to test out products and share their feedback in real-time to help Expedia troubleshoot bugs prior to public launch,” Miller said.

Romie’s other features fell outside the purview of my hypothetical trip, but Miller said the tool will get to know users’ preferences over time, with “progressive intelligence” being a key principle.

“An assistant that forgets what you told it isn’t very useful, especially in a complex process like travel planning that we all know takes weeks or sometimes months,” he said. “So, that notion that Romie’s learning as it goes and remembering is very important to what we think an assistant needs to do.”

Based on my test run with the current version of Romie, I’d recommend it to travelers as a starting point for generating ideas and tracking itinerary items of interest. However, given the apparent glitches in the user experience, I wouldn’t rely solely on the tool.

–Nathan Diller

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What’s it like to use Booking.com’s AI Trip Planner?

Booking.com’s AI Trip Planner is currently only accessible via the Booking.com mobile app in English-speaking markets, including the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand. Once I created an account, a pop-up screen prompted me to “start chatting” with the AI Trip Planner. The AI tool greeted me and asked how it could help my trip planning – it also warned me that it’s “still learning.”

According to Cavis, the AI language model is still in its “early discovery, early planning space.” Currently, it acts like a well-traveled friend who can provide guidance based on your answers, interests and tastes. The tool can recommend destinations, places to stay, and things to do and even create a full itinerary for your trip. 

“It’s less about generating search results and more about curating lists of things that are potentially ideal for you,” she said. 

In the future, Booking.com hopes to “extend the helper all the way through the journey,” like updating your ground transportation if your flight is delayed, Carvis said. 

I asked the AI Trip Planner to find me a hotel room in Rome for three nights in September, and it asked for specifics, like a preferred location or type of hotel. I said it would be my first time, and I didn’t know where to start. The tool responded with three hotel options, all which are based in Rome’s city center, highly rated and cost between $264 and $602 for the stay.

While I could learn more about the hotels and read their reviews on the app, I couldn’t book directly through the AI Trip Planner. For that, I’d have to go to the hotel’s page on the app or website. I also couldn’t book a rental car through the AI Trip Planner.

I then asked the AI Trip Planner to come up with things for me to do during my trip, and it gave me eight “popular attractions and activities,” such as visiting the Colosseum and the Pantheon – typical Rome must-dos. I asked if the tool could help me get tickets to the Colosseum, and it told me that I had to visit the website for the Colosseum or a third-party vendor like Viator to do so. 

“The AI Trip Planner makes recommendations that are more niche or more hidden gems,” Carvis said. However, I found that even when I gave more specifics about what to do – like if I were a foodie – the first results were still the most popular or famous choices, which also means crowds and often overly touristy places.

When I asked for vegan restaurant recommendations, it gave me five. Although there were no links for me to learn more or how to contact the restaurants, I was able to ask for more detailed descriptions, like what I could expect from their menu and the atmosphere. 

I asked the AI Trip Planner to help me get from one of the recommended hotels to one of the suggested vegan restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised at how detailed the results were: I was told the stations and lines if I wanted to use the metro, or take a 20-minute walk “through some of Rome’s most beautiful neighborhoods.” 

Finally, I asked the AI Trip Planner to give me a three-day itinerary in Rome if I love food and am vegan. It broke down each day into the morning, lunch, afternoon and dinner, including what to do and where to eat each meal. The itinerary is a good starting point for travelers, but since it told me to visit the Colosseum and Roman Forum in the afternoon – which is peak visiting time – I’m not sure it accounts for crowds or long lines.

While I wouldn’t depend on the AI Trip Planner for my complete trip itinerary, I would certainly turn to it for help finding accommodations and initial ideas in the beginning stages of my trip planning.

If I were hoping to go on a beach vacation and had a budget in mind but no destination, this is where chatting with the AI Trip Planner would come in handy. I also liked how it helped narrow down my hotel options based on location and price, which is sometimes a challenging yet essential part of planning a vacation. Based on the vagueness of the AI Trip Planner when asked about day-to-day activities, I likely wouldn’t use the tool for restaurant recommendations or things to do since you need to leave the platform to book or get further details anyway. 

These AI travel planners are designed to personalize and simplify the travel planning process. Although they aren’t yet at the stage where you can rely on them completely, only time will tell.

–Kathleen Wong

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