JetBlue Vacations partners with Utrip to harness AI in trip planning


JetBlue Vacations has partnered with Utrip, a Seattle-based trip-planning portal that aims to achieve true personalization in designing vacation itineraries.

Utrip launched five years ago as a fairly standard booking site, but it has harnessed artificial intelligence and machine learning and added curated local recommendations to take trip planning to new heights.

The partnership will enable JetBlue Vacations to create a personalized, hour-by-hour vacation itinerary – including JetBlue flights, hotels and other amenities – online in just a few minutes.

Gilad Berenstein, chief executive officer and founder of Utrip, said once the system has an idea of the customer’s preferred destination, it can begin to make use of the clues that the user has provided about travel preferences.

“As planners use a site, they leave behind a great deal of information on their preferences and  what they dream about,” Berenstein said. Utrip collects that data and begins to decipher what matters most to the traveler.

It sounds like a painstaking process, and it would be if the travelers had to do the legwork.

Utrip uses 15 “levers” – categories such as history, cuisine and budget – to create the building blocks for a trip.

Utrip’s artificial intelligence algorithm, created by machine learning scientists, sorts through millions of potential combinations of sites, activities and restaurants – offering a suggested daily itinerary with recommended times and maps.

Utrip has found that its users often extend their trips by a day or two in order to incorporate as many of the recommendations as possible. Because the recommendations are carefully curated and matched to the traveler’s preferences and parameters, they will not, for example, suggest an activity that breaks the traveler’s budget, so the conversion rate is quite high.

For example, Berenstein said, a traveler who wants to explore New York City may have overlooked one of its most famous sites, the Empire State Building. When the landmark is presented as an option, along with a convenient “Buy Tickets” button, travelers often are happy to take the opportunity to “see more stuff.”

JetBlue is Utrip’s first airline partner. To use the system, travelers go to jetblue.com/vacations and enter their destination and travel dates in the JetBlue Vacations-Utrip portal.

Next they rank their travel preferences using the 15 lever. Utrip’s artificial intelligence algorithm sorts through millions of potential combinations of sites, activities and restaurants and offers a suggested daily itinerary with recommended times and maps.

JetBlue Technology Ventures, the venture capital subsidiary of JetBlue, helped identify Utrip as a partner for JetBlue Vacations.

As the first corporate venture capital subsidiary in Silicon Valley backed by a U.S. airline, JetBlue Technology Ventures invests in, incubates and partners with early stage startups at the intersection of technology, travel and hospitality.
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