ai - A step by step list on what you need to do next

Plus Mindtrip launches and much more

This week we featured on the list of publications that travel professionals read based on a survey done by The Travel Tech Essentialist. To be more precise - we featured last. At first I was bummed but then realised everyone above us is years (or decades) old. And some of my favourites like Future Travel and Lufthansa’s Innovation Newsletter weren’t on there at all! Small wins.

We now have a sponsor!

Very pleased and proud to be able to introduce the first sponsor for the newsletter in Propellic!

Whilst at a (conference) party in Berlin I spied a group of people that seemed to be having more fun than everyone else and made my over to them 😃 

It turned out that the common thread through which they all knew each other was by being customers of Propellic. Really, your performance marketing agency? Can’t say that is an area I’ve ever had a lot of success in - so I was intrigued.

Turns out Propellic is harnessing the power of ai, via ai powered content generation to help their customers with SEO. As the founder Brennan explained to me, it does allow scale and as they are following very tight guidelines and with human QA at each step, they are able to create SEO-optimized content that resonated with the audience. This works in concert with page template optimisation and website URL structure to create the right conditions to rank.

Using this strategy with Captain Experiences, a fishing experiences outfit that was looking to expand and scale their business, they were able to achieve 124% Growth in Page 1 Rankings in just 6 months & 110% Growth in Top 3 Rankings. Jonathon the CEO at Captain Experiences said “The Propellic team is incredibly professional, responsive, attentive, and results-oriented at all times.” Hard to argue with that!

Step by step guide(s) on what you need to be doing in ai!

Not just one, but two guides came out on what you should be doing, now, about ai in your business. To be fair, they were coming from different perspectives and both had points of merit. For whatever reason - they both had exactly 8 steps……. 🤨 

The first in TTG was from Andy Headington, chief executive of marketing agency Adido. His headlines were:

1. Define your business problem

2. Make sure that AI solutions are the best answer

3. Start small

4. Train and support your staff

5. Think about the consequences

6. Check, edit, refine and check again

7. Ask around (Hi 👋)

8. Practice makes perfect

The next came to us via Fast Company & this time it was Ravi Evani, the CTO for Travel & Hospitality and leads a global, large-scale engineering organization at Publicis Sapient. Ravi’s 8 were:

1. Strategic Alignment And Leadership Buy-In

2. Aligning Generative AI With Departmental OKRs

3. Establishing A Generative AI Center Of Excellence

4. Creating Collaborative Platforms

5. Empowering Internal Champions

6. Customized Training Programs

7. Providing Continuous Support And Resources

8. Measuring Impact And Celebrating Success

Anyone who saw Tom McGarry’s presentation at Arival will see a few similarities with this second list (Tom is coming on the pod soon to update those who weren’t in Berlin).

If we look for commonality between the too, we can see that training is the crossover point (and that can be done with ai too - ahem -

Not sure if Ravi is riffing on Flight Centre’s announcement last year in creating a Center of Excellence or if that has just come from his own thinking? In the article he expands “This dedicated team serves as an enabler, guiding departments through the adoption process, providing resources and expertise, and ensuring a cohesive approach across the enterprise. This person should also stay abreast of external factors associated with the technology that could hinder success or buy-in, such as concerns about data privacy or the introduction of unintended bias.”

Helping with this set up and being an ongoing external partner and resource to your Center of Excellence is exactly where I think I can probably help most businesses too. If this is something you are looking to do, please book in a call here to discuss.

Consultancies drop their thoughts on hospitality!

Not one but two 😃 of the big global consultancies came out this week with their highly researched thoughts on hospitality.

McKinsey got us going with their “How the Worlds’ best hotels deliver exceptional experiences” report. It didn’t mention ai once! Not sure those researchers are keeping their jobs. 😝 Not surprisingly they talked about how experience is the new luxury and listening is the new superpower. Maybe they follow Rudi Medved on Linked In (like I do) who had been talking about the same thing recently when sharing his thoughts on the book “Unreasonable Hospitality.” (If you haven’t seen the Hot Dog TedX talk by Will Guidara - click away now).

It was Deloitte’s job-keeping-in-fact-probably-getting-a big-promotion researchers who came out a day later with “AI’s transformative role in the Hospitality Industry” The two key areas they zoomed in on were personalisation & operational efficiency. Indeed, one can lead to the other if you can get your front of house staff out of the computer screen and in conversation with the customer - they will be able to personalise for them immediately or as Deloitte explains it “ An example can be seen in hotels where receptionists have been transformed into ‘experience officers’, using AI to automate routine check-in tasks so they can focus on guest engagement and personalisation.”

These “experience officers” are the same thing as Will Guidara’s Dream Weavers - seriously - go watch it no matter what part of travel you are in. Whoever masters it, wins.

If you think someone (or everyone) you know or work with could grow from being more informed on the topic of ai + travel (or could use the training above) then please forward this email to them and they can click the button below:

We have reached Jetson’s mode

This video floating around during the week showed how when robotics firm Figure teamed up with OpenAI showed what your helper in your Bali villa might very soon look like! Wowsa.

this isn’t the video you should be watching…

Got a tip or seen a story I’ve missed? Let me know by simply replying to this newsletter.

Airports, solved!

OK - that is probably a little over-hyped. I stood in the line for my Scoot flight check-in for 2.5 hours in Melbourne recently. I don’t know how we didn’t miss our flight. My toiletry bag went flying across the security area. I left without a belt on. There are a lot of things to fix!

BUT this week, the US Department of Homeland Security released their ai roadmap. Its on the map, baby! The article says “DHS is currently using AI to make travel safer and easier with applications including credential authentication technology. By introducing customer-facing technologies such as touchless check-in at airport, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) provides travelers with an optional way to navigate TSA security processes, check bags and board their flights by taking just a photograph.”

Could have used some of that touchless check in gear at the Scoot counter. I’m not mad. Just disappointed.

All in favour, say “ai”

Loved this piece in The Verge this week where they analysed all the big public companies earnings call speeches for use of the term “ai” across the past decade. Unsurprisingly there has been a spike over the past 6 quarters.

Also unsurprisingly, no-one from travel made the top 10 with most of the main heavy hitters being present like Microsoft, NVIDIA, Alphabet (Google) & Meta. Surprisingly Apple didn’t make it into the top 10. The reason given is their preference for the term “machine learning” but as we saw this week, it could also be because they are flailing a bit and now in talks with Google about bringing Gemini into the iphone. (hat tip to Slack group member Alex Bainbridge for bringing us that news there as it broke!)

Back in travel, Club Med were the latest to say they were in ai. To be honest, the article didn’t really clearly explain how - but maybe acknowledgement is the first step. better than no step at all.

Mindtrip launches

Mindtrip, the well funded travel planning startup with no less than 12 founders has started its beta rollout to those who had applied to the waitlist. The results? Benoit Collin in the Slack group connected to this publication said “best ai travel planning tool I’ve tried so far”.

I had a play and would probably agree. What I liked was it took the time to ask me who I am through a survey and from that created a unique travel persona for me.

I tested it out by asking for an itinerary in Egypt, a place where I worked in tourism for 5 years so know well. The result was pretty good! I asked for a few things that it didn’t offer up initially, like an overnight felucca trip and a stay at a Red Sea beach camp. It quickly found a camp (not one I’d heard of and gave me a link to its direct website to check it out). Not sure if these links will later swap to OTA affiliate links or if the play here is to be a new OTA (I hope the second although that is the harder path).

I couldn’t quite work out how to create the day by day itinerary and the ai itself said it wouldn’t do that for me - but other wise a good start!

Co-founder Andy Moss replied to Benoit in the Slack group (thats the access you get in there!!) “Still in beta….. aiming to open up to everyone over the next month”.

In other travel planning news - Tailbox (also funded) & WeGoTrip have both launched strongly on Product Hunt recently. Tailbox was voted second best product of the day whilst WeGoTrip came in 5th on their day of launch. Both great efforts and show continued demand and interest in travel products in the wider audience.

Eduardo from Tailbox is coming on the podcast soon to tell us more - that should be in your inbox sometime next week!! We’ll reach out to Andy also.

Slack Group! CHANGES!!

We are closing open access to Slack Group in one week. It has really become a place for the builders and so I want to lean more into that and to be fair, that is probably a bit dull for the average onlooker. If you are building something in ai or want to build something in ai - then jump in there now - today.

 We had our first VC join this week, which was very exciting and that is a cohort I’ll now work to bring more of into the group so those discussions can happen more easily.

I also hope it will be a place where we can find collaborative projects that can showcase some of the great innovations. I’ve been contacted by a few forward thinking destinations who might be interested in being a sandbox environment for bleeding edge experiences utilising ai in travel &/or we might group together to help spread the expense of getting stands for the big conferences like ITB and WTM under an ai in travel banner. All this will form up in the Slack.

GTP 5 announced

Sam Altman talked about what is coming next for GPT 5 including the text ot video capabilities of the Sora product on the Lex Fridman podcast this week.

You can catch up with the highlights here. (Thanks Alex Bainbridge for the link).

How to work with Tony

As things have started to get busy in a few different areas I’m going to now change the way I work with people:

What was consultancy services to help you with your own ai strategy & other growth challenges (check my Linked In bio for reviews of those I’ve helped out already) will now become corporate workshops. I have space for just two in April. Please email me if interested in a 2 hour session with your leaders and ai forward team members. Each workshop has a cost of $3000 AUD (+ G.S.T. if in Australia).

Want to follow in Propellic’s footstrps and get in front of a highly engaged audience of travel decision makers by sponsoring the newsletter? We are book Q3 & Q$ sponsorships now. Also email me on that one for rates and details.

Always happy to chat to anyone looking to engage either of the two travel related startups:

  • for those looking to up their training and onboarding game such as DMC’s who want to show prospective customers how they will train their local teams on the customer brand values and safety criteria

  • Customised Trip which is an ai that mimics the human travel agent to build out a bespoke itinerary for a client before the human sales team gets involved. It comes also with a fulfillment option so the whole process from conversation to travel experience is taken care of. Great if you have an engaged audience and looking for something to really add some big value and big revenue.

Most clicked last week was the link the Google Blog post on HOW EVERYTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE in search! Hope you got to read it. Seems important.

That’s it - you’ve made it to the end of this edition. I’ll be putting the result of the most clicked post in next week’s edition so you can see where others are focussing. If I’ve missed something, you’ve got a tip or any feedback at all - you can simply reply to this email and it will come straight to me. I’m doing this for You so please don’t be shy to tell me what you think


Artificial Intelligence (AI) Artificial intelligence leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind. (source IBM)

Generative AI (GAI) is a type of AI powered by machine learning (ML) models that are trained on vast amounts of data and are used to produce new content, such as photos, text, code, images, and 3D renderings. (Source Amazon)

Large Language Model (LLM) is a specialized type of artificial intelligence (AI) that has been trained on vast amounts of text to understand existing content and generate original content.

ChatGPT - Open AI’s LLM; sometimes referred to by its series number GPT3; GPT3.5 or GPT4. These are used by Microsoft & Bing.

BERT - Google’s suite of LLM. BARD is the most common of these.

If wanting to go even deeper into the AI lexicon - check out this handy guide created by Peter Syme for the tours & activity sector