Can Expedia’s ChatGPT Feature Plan a Great Getaway? I Put It to the Test

Sangeeta Kocharekar

“It’s so quick,” my friend said. We were on our last day at Marramarra Lodge in Berowra Waters in NSW’s Hawkesbury River. I was using a new feature in Expedia’s app to get ideas for what to do and see around the area before we headed home.

Launched earlier this month, the feature was a trip-planning experience, powered by the word on everyone’s lips these days, ChatGPT. And, like my friend was now commenting, it was spitting out paragraph-long answers within seconds of pressing “send” on my prompts. It’s worth noting, this was both of our first attempts at using ChatGPT.

“Expedia members can now start an open-ended conversation in the Expedia app and get recommendations on places to go, where to stay, how to get around and what to see and do,” a release read when it launched.


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I’d contacted Expedia’s PR, wanting to try the feature and write about where I ended up. Which was where I was then, Maramarra Lodge, an all-inclusive, 14-room retreat, reachable only by boat transfer from Mooney Mooney or chopper or seaplane from Sydney.

“Help me plan a photogenic girls’ weekend away one hour from Sydney,” I’d typed in.

I’ve lived in Sydney for roughly 12 years, travelling up and down the NSW coastline and venturing inland every few months, so I would say I’m familiar with Sydney weekend getaways. Still, though, I used the feature to kickstart my thinking about where to go, what to do and, as is often the case with trip planning, simply to get excited.

Within seconds, it spit out a list of nearby destinations, giving examples of activities you could do and specific sights you could see in each. “Blue Mountains — a beautiful mountain range with stunning views, hiking trails and charming towns to explore,” the feature presented as one of four destinations within one hours drive of Sydney.


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Eventually, I decided without the help of the app on Hawkesbury River, one of the few places around Sydney’s outskirts I’d yet to explore. I went back to the Expedia app and asked it for a recommendation for a luxury stay there. Again, in seconds, it answered: Marramarra Lodge.

“It is a luxurious lodge located on the Hawkesbury River and offers a unique experience,” it wrote. “Guests can enjoy activities like kayaking, fishing and bushwalking, or simply relax in the lodge’s pool or spa.”

I googled it. I was sold. The stay there was incredible, inclusive of a 25-minute boat transfer along the glistening Hawkesbury, a sunset Champagne and oyster cruise and every meal served with a menu and prepared by a friendly French chef.

The highlight, though, was a boatshed near the property’s dock where I spent an entire afternoon with a book and a glass of sparkling water that I’d continually refill from a tap in the lodge’s help-yourself drinks area that also included wines, beer and coffees and teas.

The moody mist over the mountains in the distance, the gentle lapping of water at the shed’s edge and the knowing that there was nowhere I needed to be until the next meal made for one incredibly relaxing experience.

Now, we were on our last day, and realising we had time to kill after the lodge’s ferry dropped us in Mooney Mooney and before we needed to be in Sydney. I was using the Expedia app to find suggestions for what else we could do in Hawkesbury while we were here.

Go on a river cruise, visit historic sites, go fishing, explore the national parks and go kayaking or canoeing were a few of the activity options it gave me, along with a one-liner with more information. “The river is a great place to go kayaking or canoeing, with several rental companies in the area,” it read.

While I didn’t actually end up doing any of these activities – we ended up driving into Sydney early – it was great to again play with the feature and see what it could produce. It’s worth noting that, as you’d expect from the feature being so new, it did have some kinks to work out.

When I began prompting it for “quirky stays within three hours from Sydney”, one of the options was in South America. In the paragraph on Marramarra Lodge, it said the lodge had four rooms, instead of its 14.

I imagine that as more and more Expedia app users play with the feature, and share their feedback, it’ll get increasingly more intelligent. What I got from it in its current form and what I imagine other users might get from it, too, was inspiration for my trip. It helped to kickstart my brainstorming for weekend destinations and got me thinking about all the activities I could do.

And, in Marramarra Lodge, I got a brilliant suggestion with an experience that helped me truly understand the meaning of the brochure-heavy word “unwind”.

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