Will ChatGPT Replace Travel Agents?

ChatGPT is the most popular new technology of 2023 so far. There have been stories where the artificial intelligence platform passed an MBA exam, can write research papers for high schoolers and many other tasks that human professionals can accomplish. So, can ChatGPT help you plan a trip and serve as a free travel agent?

What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a free platform that’s in partnership with OpenAI and Microsoft. This software uses generative AI to have a one-on-one conversation with a human. It’s similar to a chatbot for customer service but is more sophisticated as it has a deeper knowledge library to source data for many topics.

For example, you can ask follow-up questions and correct errors as it may reference outdated details. The extensive knowledge library currently dates back to 2021, so this isn’t the best service for catching up on current events or the latest research reports, like the most unreliable airlines.

However, this technology is still in its infancy. The developers recently released a free research preview version to the public. This trial period lets the developers receive user feedback and improve the system’s accuracy.

Can ChatGPT Answer Travel Questions?

It depends. This service is good at finding basic details and may provide the pros and cons of a destination or activity. However, you will need to dig deep for details to compare travel options and research the latest travel guidelines.

For now, you may decide to use this service to find travel ideas, but it’s still best to reference first-hand testimonials or consult with the travel provider to fully answer your questions.

Travelers with an in-depth research checklist are also likely to see the ChatGPT responses to be lacking as its personalization capabilities are limited.

I put it to the test. Below are the results I got.

Question #1

Here is a response about the best way to spend one day in Los Angeles if you’re a movie fan:

“If you only have one day in Los Angeles and you want to see Hollywood and movie-related sites, here are some must-visit attractions:

  1. Hollywood Walk of Fame: Take a stroll along the famous sidewalk and see the stars of your favorite celebrities.
  2. TCL Chinese Theatre: See the hand and footprints of Hollywood legends at this historic theater.
  3. Dolby Theatre: Visit the venue for the Academy Awards ceremony and enjoy a guided tour.
  4. Hollywood Hills: Take a scenic drive or hike through the hills for panoramic views of the city.
  5. Sunset Boulevard: Drive down this famous street and see some of the iconic movie theaters and landmarks.
  6. Paramount Pictures Studio: Take a tour of one of the oldest and most famous film studios in the world.
  7. The Hollywood Museum: Explore the history of Hollywood through memorabilia, costumes, and artifacts.
  8. The Grove: Browse through this outdoor shopping and dining destination, located in the heart of Hollywood.

These attractions will give you a good taste of Hollywood’s film history and culture. Be sure to plan ahead and consider traffic, parking, and wait times to make the most of your limited time.”

Inquisitors can quickly receive a concise response that can be easier than browsing several travel websites or buying a guidebook to get ideas. However, you may prefer reading first-hand accounts from people who have actually visited to see if it’s worth visiting and to avoid the generalized marketing points.

Follow-Up Question

You can also ask follow-up questions to winnow down your search to finalize your travel itinerary. However, you will most likely need to go to the travel provider or attraction website to get the most accurate information.

Question: How Much Does It Cost To Visit The Hollywood Museum?

ChatGPT response: “As of my knowledge cutoff in 2021, the general admission fee to visit The Hollywood Museum in Los Angeles, California is around $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students. Children under the age of 10 may be admitted for free. The museum also offers various discounts for groups, military personnel, and museum members. It’s best to check the museum’s official website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on admission fees and discounts.”

Can ChatGPT Book Trips?

Not yet, as this service is currently a research tool for general knowledge from 2021 or earlier. However, flight booking sites like Google Flights use predictive tools to estimate if flight prices are more likely to increase or decrease and recommend the best time to buy.

As the technology improves, it’s likely that customers can chat with an AI-powered travel agent and have an in-depth dialogue that can help compare flight, hotel, car rental and travel experience options.

For now, travelers are better off booking their own trips through a self-service website or hiring a travel agent.

Summary

Travel agents and advisors still have job security as they have access to current information and can draw from their personal experience at destinations to help travelers plan a trip. However, that trend can gradually change as AI evolves and gets better at processing real-time data. Consider using ChatGPT for preliminary research only as it can summarize the consensus from many expert sources, if you decide to use it at all.

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