Online travel giant Expedia has partnered with controversial artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT to act as your travel adviser.
Holidaymakers can now have a conversation with the advanced chatbot in the Expedia app.
Wondering what the weather will be like at your holiday destination? Whether you will need to hire a car or public transport will suffice? If there are flights between certain destinations you plan to visit? The cheapest time to travel to a particular spot? What you should pack? Expedia’s ChatGPT function appears to have you covered.
And it’s not just one-word or one-sentence answers. It provides explanations and options.
For example, when news.com.au asked what to pack to visit Auckland, New Zealand in June, the chatbot explained the type of weather to expect and suggested eight things to pack and why, including comfortable shoes for exploring as “Auckland is a walkable city”.
“Remember to pack light and only bring what you need to avoid excess baggage fees and make your trip more comfortable,” it said.
When asked how to best see the Great Barrier Reef, ChatGPT gave four options for different preferences (such as, if you want to get wet or not) and budgets.
“It’s important to choose a reputable tour operator that follows sustainable tourism practices to help protect the reef,” it added.
OpenAI launched ChatGPT in December last year and has been both heavily praised and criticised. The criticisms are mainly over concerns about safety and accuracy.
Italy became the first Western country to ban ChatGPT this month over privacy concerns, which was followed by this blog post from OpenAI about the company’s approach to safety.
Elon Musk was a co-founder of OpenAI in 2015 but resigned from the board in 2018 due to a potential conflict of interest with Tesla AI. At the time of its launch, he described ChatGPT as “scary good”.
The Expedia and OpenAI ChatGPT collaboration is in the beta testing phase, with Expedia warning, “While many measures have been taken to limit inaccurate results and inappropriate responses, at times the experience may not work exactly as expected.”
The company said it would use feedback from employees and users to ensure responses meet its standards.
When using Expedia’s ChatGPT feature, hotels discussed in the conversation are automatically saved to a “trip” section in the app so the user can access further details and book.
“Every great trip can be made or lost while planning and shopping. As the leader in travel tech, Expedia continues to build out the core operating system for the industry, constantly enhancing capabilities and making trip planning faster, simpler and even more informative,” Expedia Group chief executive Peter Kern said in a statement.
“By integrating ChatGPT into the Expedia app and combining it with our other AI-based shopping capabilities, like hotel comparison, price tracking for flights and trip collaboration tools, we can now offer travellers an even more intuitive way to build their perfect trip.”
Kern said the intention was not for AI to replace jobs, when speaking to the Economic Times.
“We’re not treating AI as a tool to drive efficiency. We just think that’s a means to scale more efficiently and to get better outcomes for the consumer,” he said.
“We don’t come at it from the you know, how can we make it cheaper to execute – we want to make the experience great so that consumers stay with us, come back, shop again. So that’s really our goal.”