Powerful new artificial-intelligence software is already shaking up the travel industry, but it has a long way to go until it can plan a seamless trip. For now.
One day soon, in the artificial-intelligence-powered future, a vacation might start by telling your smartphone something like this: “I want to take a four-day trip to Los Angeles in June, whenever airfares and hotel rates are best, using loyalty rewards points. I want to hit a history museum and an amusement park — and then I’d like 7 p.m. dinner reservations near the hotel at a restaurant with vegan options and a great wine list.” And your phone spits out the perfect itinerary.
Oded Battat, the general manager at Traveland, a travel agency in Bridgeport, Conn., asked ChatGPT for outings he might offer his clients going to Tuscany to see if it could help him with his work. He got a list of 14 activities, including winery tours and museum visits, with a stop for gelato in the town square of the medieval hill town San Gimignano. “I knew of all these things,” Mr. Battat said, but, he added, ChatGPT saved him the hassle of collecting all the information and delivered it in a format he was able to email to one of the clients.
ChatGPT, the service Mr. Battat has begun using, burst onto the scene in November, and it has already begun to shake up tech-driven industries, including travel. Unlike the A.I. that’s already familiar to most consumers — think website chatbots — ChatGPT is “generative,” meaning it can analyze or summarize content from a huge set of information, including web pages, books and other writing available on the internet, and use that data to create original new content. Its advanced natural language capabilities also mean it understands and responds in a more conversational way.