People, Travel

Expedia, Amazon Team Up to Facilitate Travel Booking

An Amazon Echo deviceAn Amazon Echo device

On Wednesday, Expedia unveiled a new skill for Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices, such as the Amazon Echo, in advance of the busiest travel season of the year.

With the Expedia skill enabled, travelers can ask Alexa for details on flights, hotel reservations and other parts of their trip booked through Expedia. They can also ask Alexa to reserve a rental car with price comparisons.

“We’re excited to work with Expedia to bring personalized travel-updates to our Alexa customers—and just in time for the busiest travel season of the year,” Rob Pulciani, director of Amazon Alexa, was quoted as saying by Travel Pulse.

"Now Alexa and Expedia customers have the ability to track their flights, book their car rental and get real-time updates on delays or gate changes—all hands-free by just using your voice."

At the GeekWire Summit in October, Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi discussed the powerful opportunities for voice-commanded systems in travel.

“I think that the search experience, which is ‘please book me a hotel in New York, Midtown next week’, I think the search and query experience is much better served through voice,” he said.

The idea of a virtual assistant powering Expedia is not as novel as one might think. At a travel conference in October, Rich Barton said he founded Expedia in 1996 with “a synthetic, intelligent travel agent” in mind.

Khosrowshahi believes Expedia, with its robust product and technology teams, can lead the pack in building voice experiences. His comments suggest the new Alexa skill may be just the beginning for Expedia when it comes to this technology, according to Geek Wire.

“The kind of questions that you start getting are going to be much broader, are going to be much more random and are going to be much more complex and that, I think, creates a terrific opportunity for companies like ours to stand head and shoulders above some of the other companies,” he said.

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