Today you search for flights, hotels and rental cars online — and look to pop culture, social media and the internet for inspiration on your next vacation. Artificial intelligence-infused chatbots are an emerging option to provide travel planning assistance. These tools are something to consider, but keep in mind that they’re not the only options.
You just might plan your future domestic or overseas adventures with a major assist from a chatbot like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or other so-called “generative AI” tools.
These buzzy AI systems, which despite the hype are still in their relatively early days, are trained on vast amounts of human-generated data from across the web, what geeks refer to as large language models, or LLMs.
The idea is that you’ll have a conversation with an AI bot the same way you may ask the help of a friend or travel agent to conjure up day-to-day itineraries and spark suggestions of great places to visit, prompted by whatever you tell it.
To begin, you might type something like:
- I’ve got two weeks, am traveling with elderly parents and want to visit national parks.
- What are the top 10 fly fishing lodges in New Zealand?
- I have six days and want to visit accessible places in and around Prague with my grandfather, who’s on a low-salt diet.
- Create a one-week itinerary in the UK around a Beatles theme or Shakespeare.
Deeper into an exchange, you can get practical information, such as what transportation options are available between the airport and your hotel, or what it’s like driving somewhere.
“We look at AI as the catalyst that’s going to bring travel out of the dark ages,” says Ross Borden, chief executive of travel guide publisher Matador Network, which recently surveyed 1,400 travelers and found that more than a third are likely to employ AI to research or plan travel within the next 12 months.
Matador launched an upstart conversational bot called GuideGeek, initially via the WhatsApp messaging platform, powered by tech from OpenAI.
In April, the travel site Expedia launched an iOS-only chatbot in beta that is based on ChatGPT, with Android to follow. Expedia also has a ChatGPT plug-in, but it’s only available on the OpenAI site to people who subscribe to a $20 per month ChatGPT Plus service.