Expedia Group reveals whole host of new innovations at EXPLORE conference

Expedia Group reveals whole host of new innovations at EXPLORE conference

New rollouts take the stress out of travel and enhance partner experience

At its annual partner conference EXPLORE in Las Vegas this week, Expedia Group unveiled more than 40 new products and features designed to make travelling a whole lot easier.

Ariane Gorin, newly appointed CEO of Expedia Group, said: "We embrace the transformative power of AI to create personalised travel experiences. 

"Our long-standing investments in this space enable us to capitalise on the breathtaking pace of AI innovation, and today’s Spring Release demonstrates our commitment to delivering innovative products and features that enhance the way people explore the world."

The first of the exciting reveals was Romie, the travel industry’s first AI assistant designed to ‘roam’ the world with you.

Romie assists with planning, shopping, booking and even lends a hand when something unexpectedly changes during a trip — serving as your travel agent, concierge and personal assistant, all in one. 

It's said to get progressively intelligent, learning who you are and remembering what type of trips you like, like if you prefer Italian food and boutique hotels or an afternoon hiking through nature. 

Key features include group chat trip planning, where you can invite Romie to join your SMS group chat to listen to holiday plans. 

Holidaymakers wanting some advice can just @Romie to get suggestions on where to go or what to do, like a travel agent.  

Romie is able to summarise your group chat and bring what they learned about your trip straight into your Expedia shopping experience. 

It will then personalise your search even more by adding your own filters like rooftop views and early check-in to find your ideal hotel faster. 

It can pull in travel information from your emails and suggest restaurants and activities near your hotel that they think you and your group will enjoy, to build an itinerary best suited to you.

A perfect personal assistant on the go - it monitors weather changes and last-minute disruptions that may impact your plans. It will suggestions that are convenient for you as alternatives.

If that's not enough, Romie also updates your itinerary in real time so anyone in the group chat with FOMO - or fear of missing out - they can see what you’re up to. 

Travellers' friends needing to check what time to pick them up from the airport can @Romie in the group chat to check what time flights land.  

The alpha version is currently available on experimental product hub, EG Labs.  

“We believe in re-imagining the traveler experience, and then using the latest in AI to bring it to life, and with Romie, we’ve done just that,” said Rathi Murthy, CTO of Expedia Group. 

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

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

In a press conference at EXPLORE 24 Murthy expressed her excitement for the launch of Romie out of all the products released. 

She said: "I'm so excited about Romie and what it can do to make travel delightful again."

As part of its Spring Product Release for this year, travellers will be able to create customised itineraries for upcoming trips based on AI-generated recommendations tailored to their trip and saved items. This will roll out in the Expedia app US this summer.

Other new features as part of the product release include self-service booking management for changes, cancellations and air credit redemption all handled directly in the app or on the web. This will also be live on Expedia and Hotels.com globally from the summer. 

The Help Centre has also been updated with advanced AI technology to assist travellers. This is already live in the US for both brands.

Price Comparison will allow travelers to compare prices for hotels and flights across dates, to suit all budgets. 

Destination comparison will be possible with GenAI tools to help holidaymakers discover and compare new destinations.

Price comparison is available on Expedia and Hotels.com from the summer in the US and destination comparison will be available on all three Expedia Group brands from this summer in the US.

Guest review summary is a final standout feature of the Spring Product Release. This feature leverages GenAI technology to summarise guest reviews upfront on Expedia.

For Expedia partners, many new features were revealed. According to Edgar, Dunn & Company, the industry has lost over $21 billion annually from fraudulent transactions. Expedia's new Fraud Prevention as a Service (FPaaS) solution will screen bookings to minimise unathorised account access and chargeback losses.

Its partners can now cash in on the loyalty programme by funding OneKeyCash for travellers booking hotels. 

Gorin stated that among all the realeases this is her favourite as they received feedback after its launch last year from partners like hotels and destinations wanting to be a part of it.

She said: "The fact that now a year in, we've found a way for destinations to participate, I think it's a great example of how we're taking this loyalty programme and one key and finding new ways across the travel ecosystem to bring value to travellers and to our partners."

Optimised distribution is now available to regional chains and independent hotels, bringing properties more control over their inventory and pricing. 

Other new features for partners include AI-powered insights identifying recurring negative sentiments in reviews and to deliver personalised recommendations to hosts, as well as more control over seasonal cancellation policies. 

Travel Shops made its debut today as a new storefront. It will allow creators to share and save their travel recommendations in one central place on the Expedia app.

This new storefront allows content creators to earn commission, increase visibility and customise their own personalised space for travel content. 

Advertising partners will soon be able to spotlight destinations with shoppable links across our social channels or partner with handpicked travel influencers to sponsor a collection via their channels.  

Jochen Koedijk, CMO of Expedia Group, said: “We saw an opportunity to reinvent how consumers interact with travel content on social media platforms.

“Travel Shops are a first-of-its-kind travel platform that bridges the gap between content creators and travelers, creating a central hub for curated travel recommendations and a seamless shopping experience. 

"Travel Shops give creators the tools to build unique marketplaces, making it easy to share travel recommendations and providing a more personalised experience for travelers.” 

That wasn't all that the group revealed at its 25th annual EXPLORE conference. Expedia went on to reveal the world’s leading travel media network. 

Building on two decades of advertising experience from Expedia Group Media Solutions, the travel media network leverages its own first-party traveller intent and purchase data, of advertising partners to reach even more travellers across the purchase journey. 

Advertising partners will have an in-house creative team, advertising tools that target high-intent travellers such as TravelAds, and an opportunity to create media campaigns with the media team using partnerships such as Netflix and Disney+, alongside the Expedia Group's B2B network of over 60,000 partners.

“We’ve pioneered the travel retail media network model. Our robust, first-party data and network of industry-wide partnerships gives us the exclusive ability to translate traveler shopping behavior to actionable insights for our advertising partners,” said Rob Torres, SVP of Expedia Group Media Solutions. 

“Our travel media network targets travelers at various touchpoints on the journey with highly relevant travel content, driving conversion," he said.

"We’ve only just scratched the surface with building bespoke media campaigns for partners, I’m excited for what’s to come.”