Google Bard’s Gemini Upgrade: We Tested it for Travel


Google this week released a new version of generative AI technology that it says rivals ChatGPT. The technology, called Gemini Pro, has replaced the previous tech that powers the chatbot Bard. 

Google said in a blog post that Gemini Pro outperformed GPT-3.5 — which was released in April and powers the free version of ChatGPT by OpenAI — in six out of eight industry-standard benchmarks.  

Google says Gemini Pro is “far more capable” than its older AI model at performing such tasks as “understanding, summarizing, reasoning, coding, and planning.” 

The tech has gotten criticism over the past couple of days, however, with users posting on social media about significant errors in some of Bard’s answers to straightforward questions. The fact that Google admitted to faking a demo of the Gemini tech drew more criticism.

But, let’s see how the new version of Bard performs on tasks for travel.

In September, we tested Bard for travel shortly after it added several extensions to access real-time data through Google products: Maps, Flights, Hotels, YouTube, and Workspace, which includes Gmail, Docs, and Drive.

Spoiler: It’s not a stretch to say that Bard is actually useful in some cases, but the experimental tech still has its limits.

Summarizing Youtube Travel Videos

Younger generations often plan trips through videos made by creators on TikTok and Youtube. 

With the YouTube extension activated, I asked Bard to find videos from influencers about hidden gems in New York City. The response came with the referenced YouTube videos, playable within the chatbot window.

Then, I asked Bard to give a summary of the main points of each video, most of them about 12 minutes long. And it worked. The chatbot was able to “watch” five videos and present main points from each. 

The user can also click on the video to open in a new tab on YouTube, but wait until the ad is over before clicking; otherwise, a window could open for the ad only, not the main video. 

Itinerary Creation

I asked Bard to create an itinerary for Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon in New York City, showcasing “unique modern art, modern upscale bars, public art, and music events.”

It basically fulfilled the request, sharing three versions of an itineraries that name places to visit and details about what they are. While Bard can share real-time information for flights and hotels, it does not have the ability to do the same for events or ticketed activities.

In the previous Bard test, the response to a similar prompt included links to various sites including Wikipedia, which were usually unhelpful. In the latest test, Bard did not provide links at all to any of the places referenced in the itinerary, but it is still a good place to start for trip planning.

Notably, a single prompt generated a full itinerary that was straight to the point but provided enough context. That simplicity cannot be said of all AI models that have been released this year.

Flights and Hotels

I asked for flight options from Raleigh to New York City for next Thursday and hotel options for Thursday to Sunday. The links to several flight and hotel options were fully accurate, including the information about the airline, time, and price.

Even though I asked for hotel options for three nights, the chatbot presented roundtrip flight options for a weeklong trip. After clarifying that the return flight should be on Sunday, the chatbot presented new options.

Restaurants

Bard still doesn’t have an extension exactly for restaurants, but it can suggest restaurants and more through the Maps extension. The results are presented along with an interactive Google map and links to the restaurant suggestions.

Even though the question was asked in the same chat as the New York itinerary, it presented restaurants based on my current location of Playa del Carmen, Mexico. After clarifying that the suggestions should have been for New York City, the chatbot generated new responses.

Accessing Email for Flight Confirmations

With the Workspace extension, Bard can access the user’s Gmail account. I have flights booked this month from Mexico to Michigan in the U.S., and asked the chatbot to remind me of the departure times.

It responded with the accurate times and locations using information it pulled from confirmation emails. It also presented links to those emails that opened in Gmail.

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When first asking about my flights later this month, the chatbot presented flight options instead of checking my email about the flights that had already been booked. Because of that, it’s necessary to specifically request that the chatbot check emails if that’s the intention. After clarifying, the chatbot presented the proper information.

Travel Sales Content Creation 

I asked Bard to create copy for an Airbnb listing for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Traverse City, Michigan. Bard typically presents three drafts in its responses, which is especially useful when generating this type of content. 

One issue is that it makes assumptions that may not be true. One draft mentioned that the house has a washer and dryer, even though Bard was not instructed to include that information. 

It’s probably best to include more details upfront to avoid such issues. But, the chatbot will take feedback and rewrite a draft with relevant alterations, including making it as short or as long as needed.

At the very least, generating copy in Bard can be used as a time-saver or for inspiration, especially if writing is not the user’s strong suit.

The original prompt and evolution of the conversation can be seen in the video below.

The final result:

Imagine waking up to the gentle breeze carrying the fresh scent of Lake Michigan through your windows. Our two-bedroom haven, nestled just minutes from downtown Traverse City, offers the perfect blend of modern comfort and stunning scenery. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or an action-packed vacation exploring the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, our house provides the ideal home base for your unforgettable escape.

Step inside and discover a haven of modern comfort designed with your relaxation in mind. Spacious living areas bathed in natural light invite you to unwind with loved ones, while the fully equipped kitchen provides all the tools you need to whip up delicious meals. Two cozy bedrooms offer peaceful retreats for a restful night’s sleep, ensuring you wake up refreshed and ready to explore each day. We’ve meticulously designed every detail to ensure your comfort and convenience. High-speed Wi-Fi keeps you connected, and everything you need for a long or short stay is provided. Start planning your escape to Traverse City and book your stay at our modern haven today!



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