You will never roam alone with Travelocity app

With my travel buddy in Central Park!

In the past few months, Expedia Group has been in the forefront of technological developments. We have been exploring virtual reality experience, one of which allows viewers to swim in the Cenote Pools of the Yucatan Peninsula. I have experienced this myself and it is super cool. Expedia Group recently also launched voice-enabled actions for Google Assistant. This allows customers to books hotels and also explore their itineraries. Another area which Expedia Group has been experimenting with is augmented reality (AR). One of my areas of focus as a product manager has been just that. I am ecstatic to share the launch of a very cool and fun AR experience as part of Travelocity iOS and Android apps today.

You can now take pictures or make videos with your beloved Travelocity mascot — “The Roaming Gnome”. For those of you who do not know, this Travelocity mascot is a bearded gnome wearing a blue coat, red hat and black boots. Now you’ll never travel alone with the Travelocity app as you can see in the picture above :-).

Why Travelocity, why AR and why now?

Did you know that the Roaming Gnome has over 80% recognition in the marketplace? This comes from a quarterly brand tracker survey run by Travelocity. This made us think what we could do to bring the beloved Roaming Gnome in the hands of our customers. Well, not literally! What better way to do that in today’s world than to use augmented reality.

What is augmented reality? You have probably used AR in some way or the other if you have played Pokémon Go or used the Sephora app. In simplest terms, augmented reality is a technology which allows you to superimpose a computer-generated image into the real world. With the latest Travelocity app, you can place the Roaming Gnome into your surroundings and have some fun with it.

With AR filters gaining so much popularity, we thought of taking our AR experience one step further. You can not only take pictures or make videos with the Roaming Gnome, you can also add effects (like weather and rainbows), props (think sand castles and luggage), and sound effects to make them more fun!

Once it was decided that we will be bringing the Roaming Gnome into the hands of our customers, it was only fair to build it on both iOS and Android. For that reason, we decided to move forward with Vuforia which is an AR software development kit (SDK) for mobile devices. It was the best option available to interface for multi-platform projects vs. using ARKit on iOS and ARCore on Android.

We worked with an external company, Trigger Global, to build our AR experience.

Go ahead and try it for yourself. Simply download the Travelocity app from App Store/Google Play Store. If you already have the app, as part of the latest app upgrade, you will notice a banner at the bottom of your home screen from where you can launch the AR experience.

Experience augmented reality on your Travelocity iOS and Android app

How It Works?

Once you have launched the experience, point to a plane surface till an orange circle appears. Tap to place the “Roaming Gnome” at that location.

Launch AR experience and place the Roaming Gnome anywhere on a plane surface!

This experience is even more fun when you use the add on features such as:

Add location/travel stamps

Click on the “location” icon on the left of the camera button. This will add your location if you have given access to your location. It will also add travel stamps. Alternatively, you can add a frame to your vacation memory and create your own souvenir.

Add weather effects

You can also add weather effects to your pictures. The weather effects include:

  1. Snow
  2. Sun
  3. Rainbow

One of my favorite parts of using the AR experience is the sound effects. When you select the weather effects, you will also notice the sound effect as you add the snow, sun or the rainbow. It makes the AR experiences even more fun!

Add weather effects (snow, snow or rainbow)
Add additional props such as sand castle with a beach ball, fun family vacation luggages or luggages used for business travel

Once done adding various effects, take a picture or video & boooom! -Your vacation memory/souvenir is created. You can download and share on social media or with friends and family. It’s as simple as that!

Expedia Group recognizes the role AR will play in the future of travel and bringing the Roaming Gnome to our customers is just the first step! I’m excited to bring this experience to you and help make your vacation memories even more exciting for years to come.

A big shoutout to my team who made augmented reality a reality :)! Thank you all!

For any feedback, feel free to reach out to me here or on Twitter @amrita_ux.


PS — Enter for a chance to win a trip #Sweepstakes

Enter our sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip for two to Live Aqua Beach Resort in Cancun! The sweeps runs from October 29th to November 18th. For more details, click here and get ready to #RoamLocal!