Which is better — ChatGPT or a travel agent? Here’s our pick

Planning a vacation might be annoying — that is the place travel brokers are available.

But now, vacationers have an alternative choice: chatbots like ChatGPT, Bard AI and Microsoft Bing. Simply enter a immediate and watch the travel suggestions pour in. The finest elements? It’s instantaneous and, for essentially the most half, free.

But which is better in the case of planning holidays?

Intrepid Travel, a small group travel company, accepted CNBC Travel’s request to seek out out.

CNBC requested either side to plan a two-day journey for 4 associates, all of their mid-20s, to Melbourne, Australia.

Here’s how they fared.

Where to remain in Melbourne

The ask: Recommend three locations to remain in Melbourne which have a pool and health club, are close to Swanston Street, and which might be priced lower than $500 a night time.

Right off the bat, there was a moderately obtrusive error with ChatGPT: All three suggestions had been not in service. If that wasn’t sufficient, a few of the locations lacked each a pool and a health club, and one was over the finances.

Intrepid Travel, however, offered choices that got here with both a pool or a health club, or each. The firm additionally acknowledged that these facilities weren’t requirements however further advantages.

The winner: Intrepid Travel

Where to eat

The ask: Provide eating choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner and post-dinner drinks for 2 days.

Again, ChatGPT struggled. The instructed restaurant on the primary day, a place known as Fatto Bar & Cantina, had been closed for years.

Apart from that, a fast Google search of the opposite locations confirmed that they had been (fortunately) nonetheless in operation. Those had been, to me, on the safer finish, with instructed spots showing on a number of “must-visit” restaurant lists for Melbourne.

What to do

The ask: Provide a two-day itinerary round Melbourne with a concentrate on artwork and cultural actions.

Finding a ‘hidden gem’

The ask: Recommend one place that is not well-known by vacationers

Intrepid Travel’s hidden gem advice: Le Bar Europeen. It’s been touted as Australia’s smallest bar and barely matches 4 folks.

Reds | Room | Getty Images

Intrepid Travel beneficial hidden speakeasy Le Bar Europeen for a nightcap, and the Yalinguth App strolling tour as a daytime exercise. I discovered each suggestions thrilling and felt that they had been lesser-known methods to discover town.

Between the 2, I significantly loved the Yalinguth App strolling tour, which is an audio tour alongside Gertrude Street in Melbourne’s Fitzroy district. The app makes use of geolocated tales and sounds from Australia’s aboriginal group so listeners can perceive a slice of Australia’s previous as they make their method round one in all Melbourne’s cultural hubs.

On the opposite hand, ChatGPT interpreted the request as asking for a full day’s itinerary, recommending visits to Hardware Société, Rippon Lea House and Gardens, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne Museum, Chin Chin and Eau De Vie.

I do not contemplate any of these “hidden gems” in Melbourne, as all are all moderately common places for vacationers to go to.

The winner: Intrepid Travel


Ultimately, a few of the teething issues I had with ChatGPT boiled all the way down to the chatbot not being up-to-date — it at the moment solely “is aware of” information as much as 2021. 

In peculiar circumstances, a two-year time lag would not look like a lot. After all, eating places and motels open and shut on a regular basis! That stated, the preliminary two years of the Covid-19 pandemic precipitated many closures within the hospitality sector, making suggestions given previous to it unreliable at occasions.

I additionally discovered looking Intrepid’s itinerary extra pleasant as every advice got here with a brief write-up. The firm additionally instructed particular actions and dishes to strive at every location.

On the opposite hand, ChatGPT was far more succinct in its suggestions. Though impersonal and utilitarian, it bought the job achieved. However, I discovered myself much less enthusiastic about my journey than once I learn Intrepid Travel’s ideas.

Overall, I will not low cost the suggestions put forth by ChatGPT. It’s a fast and straightforward solution to suss out the traditional prime spots to go to in your vacation. But if you’d like a extra personalised itinerary that focuses extra on native spots, sticking with travel corporations is the way in which to go.

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