EXPEDIA GROUP TECHNOLOGY — INNOVATION

Unlocking the Value of AI and Generative AI in Travel

Expedia Group leads in innovating with AI to simplify the travel experience

Rathi Murthy
Expedia Group Technology
4 min readJul 17, 2023

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From grocery shopping to streaming music, AI has enriched many aspects of our lives, much like what the internet did in its early days, and travel is no different. At Expedia Group™️, we’ve been building with AI for years to simplify the travel experience for our travelers and B2B partners. But simplifying in the complex world of travel, where there are over 1.26 quadrillion variations on any given hotel search and tech debt everywhere you look, doesn’t happen overnight. It requires three critical elements to be successful — a solid tech platform, high-quality data, and an AI-first culture. We have all three.

Photo by Serey Kim on Unsplash

Like many companies, Expedia Group grew through acquisitions. We had 21 different brands, each with their own tech stacks, which meant that any small change had to be repeated 21 times. It made us slow, clunky and costly. If we wanted to get to our North Star, we knew we had to change our playbook and focus on fewer brands — Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo — each with its own distinct value proposition, and at the same time, modernize our platform architecture so that they all operated on one common tech stack.

Over the last two years, we’ve re-architected our entire tech platform. This has enabled us to cultivate an AI-first culture from the top down, take advantage of the 70 petabytes of high-quality data we have on traveler behavior, booking patterns and partner needs, deeply root AI in everything we do and innovate new products much faster. Today, Expedia Group is leading AI and generative AI in travel. Within five months of OpenAI launching ChatGPT to the world, we brought it into our Expedia app, helping to bring the most-talked-about use case of generative AI to travelers rapidly and on a global scale. At the same time, we focused on building new intelligent shopping features that solve common traveler pain points and completely revolutionize how we plan, shop, and book a trip.

Generative AI-powered trip planning

  • Conversational planning with generative AI: In April, we introduced conversational trip planning powered by ChatGPT in the Expedia iOS app, and we’re excited to announce its availability on Expedia Android app later this month alongside some new features. Recommended activities will now save to a trip planner alongside hotels, and soon travelers will be able to visualize their trip with images, price ranges and guest reviews featured in a conversation, as well as pick back up a conversation at any time.
Plan a trip with ChatGPT

Machine learning-assisted hotel shopping

  • Smart shopping: Hotels.com’s smart shopping technology offers new features in the app such as a hotel comparison tool so travelers can compare up to five hotels side by side on price, rating, amenities and more. We’ve also introduced machine learning-powered recommendations to help travelers pick the best rate based on factors like who’s traveling, where they’re going and for how long, and finally the ability to personalize their stay with extras like breakfast clearly priced out.
Compare hotel rates with smart shopping

Automated air credit booking

  • Air credit redemption: We’re making it easier for travelers to shop and book a flight, and redeem their air credits on a flight booked through Expedia. With just a few clicks, travelers can now log into their Expedia account and apply their air credits to eligible flights, helping them keep track of all their flight credits with different airlines in one central place.

AI supported customer service

  • Virtual Agent: Built on natural language processing and understanding, virtual agent helps travelers resolve their questions faster. It provides travelers with service that caters to their needs, so they can get help whenever they want it and is capable of nuanced actions, like requesting a refund. Since we launched it in 2020, we’ve powered more than 30 million virtual conversations and saved over 8 million hours in agent time, or roughly $150M in operational costs last year.
AI-supported service through Expedia Group’s Virtual Agent

We’ve already seen the investment we’ve put into our tech transformation and AI deliver huge amounts of value for our travelers and partners. It’s helped us deliver new products and services to them using advantage technologies like AI and generative AI at a pace that many other travel companies cannot. It’s also helped us scale and optimize our business in a way that wasn’t possible before, unlocking unprecedented levels of efficiency, creativity, and growth — all of which has propelled our organization forward.

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Rathi Murthy
Expedia Group Technology

CTO and President of Expedia Product & Technology, which includes overseeing the company’s product, AI and platform strategy.