- Expedia and Kayak have partnered with OpenAI’s AI-powered ChatGPT chatbot to provide users with trip itineraries including flights and accommodations, according to a press release.
- The AI technology — with access to Expedia’s and Kayak’s travel data — brings “more personalized and intuitive search experiences,” Kayak said in a statement.
- The companies are the first major players in the travel industry to integrate ChatGPT technology, which will be rolled out gradually to test the safety systems.
Although travel providers have been experimenting with AI for years to remove friction from the travel-planning process, ChatGPT represents the next evolution of the technology, effectively acting as a virtual travel assistant that can respond to natural-language inquiries like “I’m looking for a hotel in New York City that’s close to Central Park.”
“What a large language model like ChatGPT does is enable a traveler to plan their next trip by simply starting a conversation,” said Rathi Murthy, chief technology officer at Expedia Group. “With the Expedia plugin, the traveler will now have access to up-to-date information on the availability and price of flights, hotels, vacation rentals, activities and car rentals across the world during that conversation.”
While the chatbot will help users ideate a trip, booking a specific hotel or flight will still happen directly through Expedia’s website, Murthy noted.
“When [users] are ready to shop and book, they’ll go straight through to Expedia because travelers care about the details, like the size of a hotel room, and they want to see options personalized for them, along with exclusive member deals and rewards,” Murthy said.
Large-scale access to the ChatGPT plugin will gradually roll out over time, Murthy said, adding that the slow rollout aligns with OpenAI’s philosophy of iterative deployment — allowing the company to learn from the plugin’s real-world use and improve its safety systems. Meanwhile, Booking Holdings-owned Kayak said ChatGPT Plus subscribers will be the first with access to the integration. Kayak sister brand OpenTable has also partnered with ChatGPT.
While both brands have a long history of using AI technologies to streamline the travel planning experience — Kayak was among the first to adopt Alexa and Siri Shortcuts, for example — the industry is watching closely to see how ChatGPT will change travelers’ user habits and decision-making.