Booking your next vacation through ChatGPT has now become a reality. Expedia launched a new app plug-in today that uses the most recent version of the buzzy AI chat technology to help recommend prospective hotels for your next trip.
Travelers can use the ChatGPT function to conduct a conversational search for the best places to go and when to go, as well as hotel recommendations. The plug-in then automatically saves ChatGPT’s hotel recommendations to users’ profiles in the Expedia app, allowing them to continue their trip planning by searching Expedia’s platform for check-in dates, room availability, and flights.
“We’re integrated with ChatGPT, which allows us to take advantage of the whole conversational aspect of shopping and searching for your trip, and start that trip planning in a much more seamless, conversational manner.”Rathi Murthy, Expedia Group’s chief technology officer
The hotel options are presented in the chat as small modules that users can navigate through. To save the recommendations automatically, users must be logged in to their Expedia profile so that the hotel options are added directly to their Trip Planning Board. The only difference between Expedia’s ChatGPT plug-in and its existing hotel search function is whether you want a conversational experience or to use traditional search methods.
According to Peter Kern, CEO of Expedia Group, the new tool is “basically to help the consumer do basic language discovery.” “I want to go to Paris and Maui; where should I stay?” What is a romantic location? A boutique establishment? A location on the Left Bank? Then we serve up solutions that allow them to save those options to their Trip Boards, from which they can go look, compare, and decide.”
ChatGPT will recommend and save three to five different hotel options for booking per search in the current beta version of the plug-in. Murthy says the goal for the future is for the tool to consistently offer five recommendations for each search as technology improves.
Early iterations of ChatGPT’s travel booking had accuracy issues, as well as recommendations that were too broad. “ChatGPT’s lack of specificity is exhausting,” Traveler contributor Ashlea Halperin wrote about her experience using the public version of the chatbot to plan her upcoming Faroe Islands honeymoon. The bot gave her “some useful information, including the best time of year to travel and a few hotels and restaurants to consider,” but “nothing it recommended should be taken as gospel.”
According to Murthy, Expedia’s ChatGPT plug-in for hotels is more specific because it draws on the booking site’s own smart-shopping algorithms as well as various data points such as hotel availability, pricing, and other machine-learning sorting. “Every year, our platform generates over 600 billion AI predictions,” she claims. “AI is nothing new to us.” We’ve just taken it a step further by utilizing ChatGPT’s conversational features.”
Expedia also used additional algorithms and artificial intelligence functions to restrict the conversations to only travel booking. The beta version of the plug-in, which employs the most recent GPT-4 technology, is now available to all iOS users running the most recent version of the Expedia app.
Although the chatbot is causing quite a stir in the travel industry due to its potential to change booking methods, the actual impact on travelers’ habits remains to be seen. “We’re not sure if travelers will accept it,” Kern says. “Obviously, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding ChatGPT, but whether it improves the discovery process or gets you there faster depends a lot on the individual.” We’re really trying to solve for as many customers and as many different ways they want to shop as we can, and we believe there will be interest and it will help people.”