Expedia was founded (20 years ago this year!) on technology. We’re a company that prides itself on technology, and differentiates itself with it. We’re constantly striving to leverage technology to make the travel booking experience easier and more efficient for our customers.
To celebrate this commitment, we’re gearing up to launch Expedia Labs, an entire microsite devoted to showcasing the very best of our emerging technologies.
(Don’t worry, we’ll still profile cool technologies on our blog.)
Many of these projects have grown up out of our Hackathons, those regularly scheduled events during which we invite computer programmers to come and work with us to create new and exciting technologies. Other projects under our new Expedia Labs program were developed in-house, and still need time to grow.
We see the Expedia Labs program as a great place to test the business value of innovative ideas before implementing them within our current offerings. Here, then, in no particular order, are rundowns on a few of the projects we’re most excited about.
Many of us travelers draw inspiration for travel ideas by images we see on social media. When we see these images that capture us, they pique our curiosity, and make us want to know where that image was taken and how to get there. This is where ExpediaThis comes in! Using Twitter as the primary platform, we’ve developed an application from which users can tweet or retweet captivating images in exchange for a landmark, geolocation, and affinity detection. The app is easy to use; travelers just Tweet to the @ExpediaThis twitter handle and the application processes the image analysis. From the resulting analysis we then Tweet back a link to the most relevant page on the Expedia website solely based on this content. This technology is perfect for travelers who are on the go but wish to keep a virtual record of the spots that intrigue them most.
Planning a trip can be challenging; planning a trip with friends and family can be nearly impossible. Currently there is no intuitive tool that helps you collect and organize inspirations into an itinerary. Triplane hopes to change that by enabling you to create the most engaging itinerary—either by yourself or with other people. You and your travel buddies can add activities from all over the internet and drag and drop ideas around to craft the perfect trip. The technology will work particularly well for those who have ritualistic annual trips with large groups.
Expedia Facebook Bot
Facebook Messenger is the next frontier of customer service, and this technology puts Expedia right on the cutting edge. In a nutshell, the technology facilitates searching for hotels through Facebook Messenger chat. Customers can interact with an Expedia bot to fulfill hotel search requests. The bot operates on a structured conversation flow: it analyzes information provided and prompts the user to input other relevant data points to complete a search. Once the Expedia bot has enough information, it will present a few hotel options that match your request. Once you have chosen a hotel that meets your needs, you can book it directly with Expedia. We can’t think of anything more convenient than this.
Think of this technology as the ultimate treasure map. Designed to save time in researching a trip, Treasure Island is a map that contains information about everything you need to plan your vacation—hotels, activities, Yelp recommendations and more. It’s a great technology for those who like to see their selections in relation to everything else.
Meet in the Middle
This technology is one of my favorites of the bunch—it’s designed to help friends and family members who are located all over the country get together in a place that’s convenient for everyone. Meet in the Middle prompts you to enter multiple origins and finds common destinations sorted by the lowest total cost. From there you can see potential flights and go straight to checkout. Planning a distributed getaway has never been easier! What’s more, the app can find you some pretty sweet deals—deals available only on Expedia.
These are just five technologies spotlighted on our new Expedia Labs site; there likely was going to be more than a dozen others at launch, and new technologies were expected to be added consistently. So visit the site! Give us your feedback! And if you want to get involved, stay tuned for news on our next hackathon.