Skift Take

EG Labs, which would provide a way for consumers to provide feedback for Expedia Group product betas, is itself a test. It seems as though an active feedback loop would provide more insights than merely observing user behavior.

Expedia Group is launching a new program called EG Labs to give some consumers early access to tests for its Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo products.

The first product available for road testing would be Project Explorer, which Expedia said is its latest ChatGPT-based feature on iOS, which “makes discovering new places and different types of trips easier through curated options based on interest, budget, time of year, and geographical location.”

EG Labs will first launch in the U.S. and consumers will be able to enroll in a Discover Products section on its landing page, a spokesperson said. Project Explorer was set to go live on Thursday through the Expedia app in the U.S. only.

EG Labs and Project Explorer were part of a series of product announcements Thursday in Expedia Group’s maiden semiannual product release schedule. If not specified in this story, the rest of the products mentioned would be live before the end of the year, the company said.

In deciding to promote releases every six months, Expedia Group is taking an Airbnb-like approach. Airbnb has generated huge publicity from its winter and summer product announcements.

An Expedia Group spokesperson said it is a convenient way to bundle announcements and to create excitement about Expedia Group’s innovation and direction.

Among other highlights about upcoming Expedia Group products to be introduced before the end of the year:

  • Trip Planner, which would be available on the apps of the company’s three core brands, Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo, and is geared to facilitate trip planning among groups such as families and friends. Participants would be able to view and comment on saved and booked flights, accommodations, activities and car rentals in one place, with the aim of enhancing collaboration.
  • Amenity Answers would sift through guest reviews using generative AI on all three of the company’s flagship apps in English only, and would answer traveler questions about the pool, parking or restaurant at a hotel.
  • Flexible Date Search for Stays is hardly a cutting-edge feature these days; Airbnb, Google, and many airlines already have it. But an Expedia Group spokesperson said the company needed to first complete the migration of its three main brands onto a common tech platform to bring the feature to its brands simultaneously. The feature “gives travelers the ability to find the best options on places to stay by broadening their search by plus or minus a few days of potential dates, or by length of stay and time of year,” the company said.
  • Voluntary flight change: For eligible flights booked on Expedia, travelers would have the ability to change their flights themselves in the Expedia app in the U.S. and Canada. It was slated to be functional starting Thursday.
  • Add to wallet would enable Expedia app users to add hotel bookings into their Apple and Google Wallets. It should be working starting Thursday through the Expedia app in the U.S. only.
  • Dynamic travel guides would provide insights into various aspects of visiting popular places, including hotel prices, the weather, and crowd sizes through the Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo apps. It was slated to be live Thursday in the Expedia app in the U.S. only.
  • Property answers leverages generative AI to answer questions about hotels and vacation rentals, including those pertaining to Wi-Fi parking. This feature would become operational in the three main apps.
  • Influencer travel stories would enable social media stars try to inspire you to get off the couch through their stories. This would only be available in the U.S. on the Expedia and Hotels.com apps.

There are also several partner-oriented features:

  • Seasonal vacation rental cancellations: Vrbo hosts would be able to adjust their properties’ cancellation policies based on seasonal demand patterns.
  • Partner Gallery display offering uses three images and a headline that stands out to prompt travelers to visit a microsite to get more information about a partner offering.
  • Travel ads campaign insights is designed to improve ad campaign performance by offering data-based insights.
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Tags: airbnb, artificial intelligence, chatgpt, expedia, expedia group, google, google wallet, groups, hotels.com, influencers, online travel newsletter, trip planning, vrbo

Photo credit: A person does travel planning. Source:kitzcorner/Getty Images kitzcorner / Getty Images

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