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Hotel Development Insider

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Expedia debuts AI-powered virtual concierge Romie

The online travel agency’s AI assistant helps with planning, shopping and booking a trip — and steps in when plans go awry.

Published May 16, 2024 Editor Noelle Mateer

Romie can “listen in” to travelers’ group chats to suggest plans. Pattarisara Suvichanarakul via Getty Images

Dive Brief:

  • Expedia Group debuted its artificial intelligence-powered travel planner, Romie, on Tuesday as part of its 2024 Spring Release. 

  • Romie helps travelers plan trips, as well as book hotels and flights. It also works as a virtual concierge in the case of unexpected changes. 

  • Several online travel agencies have introduced or announced plans to launch generative AI-powered chatbots that help travelers with bookings. Expedia’s goes beyond that to provide assistance in other travel matters — something that could become increasingly more common in the travel and hospitality space.

Dive Insight:

An alpha version of Romie is currently available on EG Labs, Expedia’s hub for experimental products. 

Romie can assist with group chat trip planning when travelers “invite” the virtual assistant to their SMS group chat to “listen in” on vacation plans. Members of the group chat can tag Romie in a message to get suggestions based on their conversation. The technology can also summarize the conversation into a user’s Expedia shopping experience. 

In a statement, CTO Rathi Murthy said Expedia Group created Romie “with hyper personalization in mind.”

To build travel itineraries, Romie can aggregate travel information from emails to suggest activities and dining options near travelers’ hotels, and update the itinerary in real time with changes. 

And, like a concierge, Romie can troubleshoot — meaning the virtual assistant can monitor weather changes and last-minute disruptions, as well as offer alternative plans when existing ones are impacted. 

Last month, Deloitte predicted that generative AI will become so integrated into travel search and booking platforms that it will spawn something it calls “the GenAI agent.” These virtual concierges will not only book trips for travelers, but optimize for pricing, loyalty memberships, cancellation policies and any additional conditions and perks, according to Deloitte. 

Expedia’s Romie launch came as the company announced a slew of product updates — and revealed a new travel media network for advertisers. The offering gives advertisers access to an in-house creative team, advertising tools that target high-intent travelers, offsite capabilities through YouTube and connected TV and access to Expedia Group’s global network and scale.

Original article from Hotel Dive can be found here:

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