Home 9 Blog Posts 9 Conference Travel Tips Part 2: Using AI for Travel Planning

Conference Travel Tips Part 2: Using AI for Travel Planning

by | May 24, 2023 | 0 comments

by Leah Hinds, Executive Director, Charleston Hub

Photo by Sanket Mishra on Unsplash

(Read “What Works for me: Conference Travel Tips” part one)

I wanted to update my earlier “conference travel tips” post to include tips on using AI in your travel planning and logistics. Recently, I’ve experimented with using AI for travel planning, restaurant recommendations, and more. I used the free version ChatGPT for these examples, but the same would go for Bard or Bing or any of the others. I’ll share some of my questions/prompts below, the responses, and how accurate I found the information to be, organized by the conference location.

2023 Fiesole Retreat in Basel, Switzerland

Prompt: Create a 3 day itinerary for Basel, Switzerland including sightseeing and restaurant recommendations for gluten free dining.

ChatGPT Response:

Certainly, here’s a 3-day itinerary for Basel, Switzerland with some recommendations for gluten-free dining:

Day 1:

  • Morning: Start your day with a visit to the Basel Minster. This iconic cathedral is a must-see in Basel, and its Gothic architecture is sure to impress. Be sure to climb up to the top of the tower for a stunning view of the city.
  • Lunch: For a delicious gluten-free lunch, head to Markthalle Basel. This indoor market is filled with food vendors selling everything from fresh produce to prepared meals. Look for the gluten-free options and enjoy a tasty lunch.
  • Afternoon: Spend the afternoon wandering through the historic center of Basel. Take a stroll along the Rhine River, explore the city’s charming cobblestone streets, and visit some of Basel’s famous museums, like the Kunstmuseum Basel or the Museum of Natural History.
  • Dinner: For dinner, try the gluten-free options at Restaurant Schloss Bottmingen. This charming restaurant is located in a historic castle just outside of Basel and offers a range of gluten-free dishes.

Day 2:

  • Morning: Start your day with a trip to the Fondation Beyeler. This world-renowned art museum is home to an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as a beautiful sculpture garden.
  • Lunch: For lunch, head to the Restaurant Stucki. This Michelin-starred restaurant offers a gluten-free menu that is sure to impress. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.
  • Afternoon: Spend the afternoon exploring Basel’s vibrant neighborhoods. Check out the trendy shops and cafes in the Kleinbasel district or take a walk through the beautiful gardens at the Merian Gärten.
  • Dinner: For dinner, try the gluten-free options at Restaurant Schlüsselzunft. This cozy restaurant is located in the heart of Basel’s old town and offers a range of gluten-free dishes.

Day 3:

  • Morning: Start your day with a visit to the Basel Zoo. This popular attraction is home to a wide variety of animals, including elephants, lions, and penguins.
  • Lunch: For lunch, head to Restaurant Volkshaus. This historic building is home to a restaurant that offers a range of gluten-free options.
  • Afternoon: Spend the afternoon exploring Basel’s impressive architecture. Take a walk through the Münsterplatz, visit the Basel Historical Museum, or marvel at the modern design of the Vitra Design Museum.
  • Dinner: For your last night in Basel, try the gluten-free options at Restaurant Cheval Blanc. This elegant restaurant is located in a historic building and offers a range of gluten-free dishes.

I hope this itinerary helps you plan your trip to Basel, Switzerland and enjoy some delicious gluten-free dining options!

Accuracy: Unfortunately, with the busy meeting schedule, meals provided by the event, and lots of plans made on-site, I didn’t end up using this information while I was in Basel. I did share it with one of our locals hosts, however, and they said these were good suggestions.

Prompt: “Where do you catch the train from Zurich airport to Basel SBB?”

ChatGPT Response:

To catch a train from Zurich Airport to Basel SBB (Swiss train station), you need to follow these steps:

  1. Once you arrive at Zurich Airport, follow the signs to the train station, which is located on the basement level of the airport terminal.
  2. Purchase your ticket from one of the ticket vending machines or ticket counters located in the train station. Make sure to select the destination “Basel SBB” and choose the appropriate train departure time.
  3. Board the train from the Zurich Airport train station and travel towards Basel SBB. Trains typically run every 15-30 minutes, and the journey takes approximately 1 hour.
  4. Once you arrive at Basel SBB, follow the signs to exit the train station and continue your journey to your final destination.

It’s worth noting that the Swiss public transportation system is very efficient, reliable, and punctual. If you have any questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask the station staff for help.

Accuracy: This reply was helpful, although it didn’t mention the SBB Mobile app which was a much easier way to book tickets on the go. It also didn’t recommend the Swiss Travel Pass, an all-in-one ticket option for travel within the country, but I didn’t specifically ask for ticket information.

2023 SSP Meeting, Portland, OR

Prompt: Find some unique restaurants for breakfast with vegetarian and gluten free options within walking distance of Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR.

Chat GPT Response:

Certainly! Here are some unique restaurants near Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, that offer vegetarian and gluten-free options for breakfast:

  1. Prasad: Located at 925 NW Davis Street, Prasad is a vegan restaurant that offers a variety of gluten-free options for breakfast, including smoothie bowls, gluten-free pancakes, and avocado toast.
  2. Blossoming Lotus: Situated at 1713 NE 15th Avenue, Blossoming Lotus is a vegan and gluten-free restaurant that serves breakfast items such as gluten-free waffles, tofu scrambles, and gluten-free pancakes. They also offer a range of fresh juices and smoothies.
  3. Back to Eden Bakery: Found at 2217 NE Alberta Street, Back to Eden Bakery is a gluten-free and vegan bakery that serves a delectable range of breakfast pastries and treats. You can enjoy gluten-free muffins, scones, and cinnamon rolls, along with vegan coffee options.
  4. Pronto Pup Co.: Located at 812 N Alberta Street, Pronto Pup Co. is a unique spot that specializes in gluten-free and vegan corn dogs. While it might not be a traditional breakfast option, their corn dogs make for a tasty and convenient morning meal.
  5. Harlow: Situated at 3632 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Harlow is a popular breakfast spot offering a diverse menu with many gluten-free and vegan options. You can enjoy gluten-free pancakes, grain bowls, tofu scrambles, and their signature “Dragon Bowl.”

Please note that restaurant offerings may change over time, so it’s always a good idea to check their websites or contact them directly to ensure they still provide the options you’re looking for. Enjoy your breakfast in Portland!

After checking a few of these recommendations, I realized most of them were NOT within a reasonable walking distance, so I tried to refine the search by asking, “Are all of these restaurants within walking distance of Powell’s?”

ChatGPT Response:

Apologies for the oversight. While some of the previously mentioned restaurants may require a short walk or a quick public transportation ride, they may not all be within immediate walking distance of Powell’s City of Books. Here are some alternative options that are closer and still meet your criteria:

  1. Mother’s Bistro & Bar: Located at 212 SW Stark Street, Mother’s Bistro & Bar is a popular breakfast spot known for its comfort food. They offer vegetarian and gluten-free options, including dishes like veggie hash, gluten-free pancakes, and tofu scrambles.
  2. Veggie Grill: Situated at 508 SW Taylor Street, Veggie Grill is a fast-casual restaurant that specializes in plant-based cuisine. They have a variety of vegan and gluten-free breakfast options, such as tofu scramble bowls and plant-based breakfast sandwiches.
  3. Cup & Bar: Found at 118 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Cup & Bar is a unique coffee shop that also serves breakfast. They offer gluten-free and vegetarian options, including overnight oats, avocado toast, and various pastries.
  4. The Whole Bowl: Located at 441 SW 4th Avenue (food cart), The Whole Bowl is a food cart specializing in hearty grain bowls. Their bowls are vegetarian, gluten-free, and can be customized with various toppings and sauces.

These options are in closer proximity to Powell’s City of Books, allowing for a more convenient walking distance experience.

Accuracy: On closer inspection, many of these recommended restaurants are permanently closed. My vegetarian colleague and I ended up settling on another restaurant not on the list.

2023 Liber Meeting, Budapest Hungary

Prompt: Help me find the least expensive flight with no more than one layover from Charlotte, NC, or Atlanta, GA, to Budapest Hungary for a conference from July 3-8.

ChatGPT Response:

To find the best flight from Charlotte, NC, to Budapest, Hungary, for the specified conference dates of July 5-7, I recommend using a reliable flight search engine or online travel agency. While I can’t provide real-time flight information, I can guide you on how to search for flights. Here’s how you can proceed:

  1. Visit popular flight search engines such as Google Flights (www.google.com/flights), Skyscanner (www.skyscanner.com), or Kayak (www.kayak.com).
  2. Enter your departure city as “Charlotte” or “Charlotte, NC” and your destination as “Budapest” or “Budapest, Hungary.”
  3. Select the departure date as July 5 and the return date as July 7. Make sure to specify the dates and not a range.
  4. Choose the number of passengers and cabin class according to your preferences.
  5. Initiate the search and wait for the results.
  6. Review the flights displayed, considering factors such as price, travel duration, layovers, and airlines. Be sure to check the departure and arrival times to ensure they align with your conference schedule.
  7. Once you’ve identified a flight that suits your needs, click on the relevant link to proceed with the booking process through the selected flight search engine or online travel agency.

Remember that flight availability and prices can vary, so it’s advisable to book your flight as soon as you find a suitable option. Additionally, check if there are any COVID-19 travel restrictions or requirements in place for travel to Hungary during the specified dates.

Accuracy: The initial response wasn’t what I was looking for at all. I know how to book a flight, I was looking for help finding the best (shortest travel time, least expensive) option. I tried refining my search, but was given the response, “I’m sorry, but as an AI language model, I do not have access to real-time information about flights or their pricing. However, I can suggest that you search for the airline’s website or social media pages to find current travel details.”

Conclusion: Overall, this can be a way to save time on the research process for conference travel. I can imagine using it to find reception or dinner venues close to the meeting location, or for finding hidden/unexpected gems for sightseeing as well. I plan to keep using it but will continue to double check for accuracy.

Have you used AI for travel planning? Let me know about your experience in the comments!


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