Friday, December 8, 2023

Expedia Group builds Generative AI into multiple new releases

Expedia Group is releasing a slate of new features and products, some targeted to travelers and others intended for its supplier partners, said a report in With a strategy reminiscent of Airbnb’s biannual multi-product updates, Expedia Group is calling this its “Fall Release 2023.”

Most notably, after becoming one of the first travel brands to incorporate ChatGPT into its app, the technology is now being woven through many of the new products.

Accessible in the brand apps for Expedia, and Vrbo, travelers can ask questions about a property’s amenities and services – such as whether the Wi-Fi is strong in all rooms or whether the pool provides towels – with answers produced by generative AI searching the property’s information and guest reviews.

Also in the Expedia and apps, users can access “dynamic travel guides” that provide detailed destination information and offer generative AI-powered conversation capabilities.

“Expedia Group invented online travel more than 25 years ago with the goal of using technology to empower travelers around the world,” said Peter Kern, vice chairman and CEO of Expedia Group.

“In the past few years, we’ve doubled down and invested massively in the latest tech capabilities using AI and machine learning to accelerate our innovation to better serve the millions of travelers who come to us every day. Our new intelligent discovery and planning features are designed to address traveler pain points, allowing our members to easily plan, book and enjoy travel across our three flagship apps.”

As the company continues to look for ways to use emerging technologies, it is now inviting consumers to help it in that effort. “EG Labs” is the name it has given a new “open space” where those interested in travel and tech can discover, test and share feedback on new products. The first beta product available for testing – only in the Expedia iOS app and only in the United States – is “Project Explorer,” which uses generative AI to curate trip options based on the user’s interest, location, time of year and budget.

More consumer-focused updates

Aligned with the growing trend of influencers functioning as a new form of travel agents, Expedia Group is adding influencer content into the Expedia and apps (in the U.S. only). An Expedia Group spokesperson said the company is partnering with influencers to source and produce these short-form videos, similar to what might be seen on TikTok or Instagram.

Another new product for consumers is “Trip Planner,” which enables travelers to collaborate with others to plan group trips in the app. Group members can see both saved and booked items across places to stay, flights, activities and car rentals in the Expedia, and Vrbo apps.

Other consumer-focused updates include the ability to change or cancel eligible flights in the Expedia app and simplified OneKey account management, both in the U.S. only, and the ability to add hotel booking details to Apple or Google wallets.

Updates for travel partners

Expedia Group’s Fall Release also includes a slew of new inventory and technology capabilities for the company’s travel partners.

“The preferences and insights that we gather from the millions of people that shop with our brands means we’re uniquely positioned to build advanced B2B products and solutions that we know work,” said Ariane Gorin, president of Expedia for Business.

“Our accelerated pace of innovation is not only great for our brands, but it also creates real growth opportunities for our partners and the broader travel industry.”

Updates for partners include an AI-powered recommendation engine that is intended to help hotel partners improve their performance and drive revenue, as well as enhanced insights about their guests to help hoteliers target promotions to higher-value rewards members.

To help climate-conscious travelers find properties that meet their needs, Expedia Group is enabling partners to show property and room-level details about their environmental initiatives. And to meet consumers’ desire for more choice when it comes to payments, Expedia Group is adding PayPal as an option in its White Label Template.

Additional updates have been made to the company’s advertising solutions as well as to tools for Vrbo hosts. Expedia Group said all of these updates will roll out by the end of 2023 globally, except where a specific country is indicated.

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