16 Jul, 2023 @ 13:28
3 mins read

ACCORDING TO ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Spain’s most beautiful city is . . .  

AI travel agents

WOULD you leave your holiday plans to AI? Online travel sites already use it to help with customer service but the new generative AI bots like ChatGPT can handle every aspect of your journey – and decide where you should be going.

When asked to name the most beautiful place in Spain by Viajar, ChatGPT answered swiftly and unequivocally: Ronda – the historic mountain town in the province of Malaga. 

You’d think having no eyes, emotions, experience, or indeed, the capacity to go anywhere, could be a problem. But apparently not.

Screen Shot 2023 07 16 At 12.52.36
The New Bridge, Ronda (Deposit Photo)

The AI tool went on to confidently and poetically explain why.

First and foremost, it says, it is ‘a dream city nestled in the heights of the Serranía de Ronda, where beauty blends with history and nature to create a sublime setting’.

Visitors can experience the deep pleasure of ‘walking through its cobbled streets, where the air is filled with the perfume of the flowers that adorn the balconies of white houses’. The many charming plazas, ‘invite you to stop and contemplate the comings and goings of passers-by’ all the while enjoying the sound of water from fountains, which Chat GPT describes as ‘harmonious music that blends with the environment’.

Highlighting the Mondragón Palace, the Casa de Rey Moro and the Church of Santa María la Mayor for extra praise, it says that for history lovers – ‘its palaces, churches and convents are a must, where its arches and columns transport the traveler to bygone times’. 

Chat GPT is obviously impressed by the ‘majestic’ 18th century New Bridge, and even appreciates the murmuring river below, which ‘meanders among the rocks, adding its song to the natural concert offered by the city.’

In fact, it says, warming to its theme, Ronda is the ‘most beautiful city in the world’. 

CHATGPT TRAVEL AGENTS

WHETHER you would trust an Artificial Intelligence tool to plan your holiday is beside the point. Even if you think you are researching destinations independently, there’s a good chance ChatGPT is already involved.

With so much travel planned, booked, and reviewed online, it’s been easy to surreptitiously swap humans for AI bots at every stage of the journey. 

And in five years, travel experts predict, AI powered assistants, concierges and virtual friends, will be universally present and handling just about everything. 

It’s standard for hotels and airlines to use AI to improve customer service, but we’re a long way on from the annoying chatbots that pop up at the bottom of the screen. 

Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT are able to scan a massive number of websites and other material and turn out new content that is relevant, personalised, and conversational in tone. 

Marketing companies use generative AI to write the alluring promotional material that sells hotels on booking sites. 

Screen Shot 2023 07 16 At 13.13.27

Leading travel sites Kayak and GetYourGuide use it to generate content, and Expedia has added a new virtual travel assistant to offer personalised recommendations on where to stay and what to do. 

Trip.com uses ChatGPT to power its new service TripGen. Launched last April, TripGen works like a knowledgeable local travel agent, offering travel tips, inspiration, and itinerary suggestions that are right for you through real-time communication.

‘You desire a trip . . . we do the rest,’ they say. In the olden days, anyone wondering where to go and what to do might have asked a friend or searched online, ‘but inevitably,’ they continue, ‘this leads to more questions like, what’s unique about this place? How do I arrange my days? What’s it going to cost me? and so on. 

‘TripGen’s chatbot allows users to enter any fragmented travel-related questions, and receive instant suggestions, from flights and hotels to transportation and tours, making the whole process enjoyable and stress-free.’

Next summer, Airbnb is launching what it calls ‘the ultimate concierge’, something that will set out to learn all it can about you over time in order to match you with the perfect properties and experiences.

One small, as yet unresolved, problem with ChatGPT, is that it is prone to  ‘hallucinating’, inventing places that don’t exist and getting its facts mixed up – but these are described by developers as teething problems. 

More worryingly, AI can be intentionally manipulated to create fictions. Developer Lee Mallon created a kind of TripAdvisor that featured over 2000 activities, described in 250,000 words with 2,600 images– and it took him two days! 

??“ChatGPT is taking travel and the world by storm,” says Caroline Bremner, head of travel and tourism research at Euromonitor International. The research company recently carried out a survey into the use of AI in travel.  Bremner predicted that travel agents are about to face the biggest disruption to their industry since the arrival of the internet and online booking.

“However,” she added, “only those that ultimately celebrate the human touch of travel and hospitality will thrive.”?? 

READ MORE:

Ronda – Front Row Seat to History

Ronda: The Spanish town that sits up high in the mountains

Sorrel Downer

Sorrel is a journalist based in Spain who writes for The Guardian, and whose bylines include The Telegraph, The Times, Financial Times, Conde Nast Traveller, Business Life, Business Insider, Reader's Digest, Evening Standard, and the BBC.

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