On Location: Expedia CEO assures AI will not replace human roles, announces AI text assistant

On Location: Expedia CEO assures AI will not replace human roles, announces AI text assistant
Edited by Travel Weekly


    Travel giant Expedia has wasted no time unveiling several new features and products at its EXPLORE conference in Las Vegas, including the world’s first AI chatbot Romie.

    As to be expected, AI has been one of the key topics of discussion.

    Expedia CEO Ariane Gorin put fears to bed around its power and ability to replace human roles to rest, assuring that its travel agency platform (TAP) already uses AI and machine learning.

    Ariane Gorin at Expedia’s EXPLORE conference.

    She also said that while the role of the travel agent may change over time as AI capabilities ramp up, they will never be entirely replaced by AI. 

    “AI will light up our industry like electricity did for the world,” Gorin said.

    AI Assistant Romie 

    Designed to ‘roam’ the world with travellers and have their back at every step of the trip, Romie assists with planning, shopping, booking and even lends a hand when something unexpectedly changes during a trip — serving as a travel agent, concierge and personal assistant, all in one.

    Like the ideal travel companion, Romie gets progressively intelligent — learning who you are, remembering what type of trips you like, and even if you prefer Italian food and boutique hotels or an afternoon hiking through nature. 

    “We believe in re-imagining the traveller experience and then using the latest in AI to bring it to life, and with Romie, we’ve done just that,” Expedia’s chief technology officer Rathi Murthy said.

    “We created an AI assistant with hyper-personalisation in mind so that travellers can choose when they want Romie’s help on their own terms.

    “Romie can assist throughout dreaming, planning and travelling or even when things don’t go as planned, all while getting more intelligent as the traveller interacts”.

    Travel Shops 

    The debut of Travel Shops as a new storefront allows creators to share and save their travel 

    recommendations in one central place on the Expedia app — saving travellers from spending hours scrolling on social media to find past recommendations and new inspiration.

    “Travel Shops are a first-of-its-kind travel platform that bridges the gap between content creators and travellers, creating a central hub for curated travel recommendations and a seamless shopping experience,” Expedia’s CMO Jochen Koedijk said. 

    Travel Media Network 

    Expedia has also revealed its “world’s leading” travel media network. Building on two decades of advertising experience from Expedia Group Media Solutions, the network leverages first-party traveller intent and purchase data so advertising partners can reach even more travellers across the purchase journey. 

    Advertising partners benefit from an in-house creative team, advertising tools that target high-intent travellers, offsite capabilities, and a global network that utilises partnerships – such as Netflix and Disney+.

    Expedia EXPLORE 2024. (Supplied)

    Expedia’s EXPLORE conference is taking place on 14 and 15 of May at the ARIA Resort in Las Vegas. 

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