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You can invite generative AI assistant Romie to join your travel-planning group chat. It’s too early to tell if it will be a welcome guest.

Expedia Group’s generative AI travel assistant Romie could join your trip-planning group chat. 

During the Skift Data + AI Summit Tuesday, Expedia Group’s Chief Architect Rajesh Naidu spoke about the company’s burgeoning AI tools and what they could mean for travelers.

For example, when you add Romie to a messaging chat in WhatsApp or iMessage, it can step in with personalized recommendations based on your texts, even helping to rearrange itineraries if something interrupts your vacation. Romie is still in its early stages — in alpha testing under EG Labs.

According to Expedia Group’s website, Romie can also serve as concierge and keep your loved ones informed on your travel status.

Here is an example Expedia Group shared with Skift. Say you’re planning a family trip to Chicago, and one person is interested in dinosaurs. If those details come up in a group chat that includes Romie, the assistant will recommend museums and experiences in the city catered to dinosaur enthusiasts.

“[Romie] is actually looking at the conversation with intent and understanding,” Naidu said. “So group chat planning is a big thing.”

Naidu acknowledged how some are skeptical about the future of AI-powered travel assistants. But he believes Romie’s ability to evaluate a conversation can help.

“[A traditional chatbot] doesn’t know anything about you. It doesn’t know your preferences. It doesn’t understand… the context,” Naidu said. “I think what’s different… with Romie is something that is going to learn from you and is going to be alongside you and also get smart intelligence over time.” 

Some travelers may be wary of letting an AI guest enter their group chat. Skift asked if privacy could be a concern.

“We are asking you to add it to the context of the travel conversation, so there is a burden also on the traveler,” Naidu said. “The second thing is we also have guardrails on our end.” 

Naidu added the company has to “stay ahead” to avoid running into privacy issues.

Data and AI Beyond Romie

Romie isn’t Expedia Group’s only AI application. Naidu said Expedia Group is using AI tools to help lodging and hospitality partners improve their content strategy. By analyzing bookings, traveler feedback, and refund data, Expedia Group can offer input on their partners’ content.

Expedia Group is also focusing on content for vacation rentals specifically.

“Property owners or property managers are submitting listing descriptions and things like that, taking advantage of generative AI and other things to do better summarization augmentation of these descriptions and content,” Naidu said. 

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Tags: ai, booking technology, data, expedia, expedia group, online travel newsletter, privacy, rentals, SDAIS24, Skift Data + AI Summit, the prompt, travel planning, travel tech, trip planning, very online

Photo credit: Expedia Group’s Chief Architect Rajesh Naidu at the Skift Data + AI Summit 2024. Skift

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