Expedia Group and Kayak are the first travel companies to integrate with OpenAI’s ChatGPT artificial intelligence-powered chatbot.
The two companies have created plugins for ChatGPT so the platform can access their data when responding to inquiries from users.
In a blog post Thursday announcing the availability of plugins, OpenAI’s Yaniv Markovski writes, “ChatGPT will intelligently
decide between calling a plugin and handling a user’s query using its intrinsic knowledge. For example, the model may decide that a question about current events requires calling a browser plugin, but may feel comfortable answering a very simple math
or science question without using a plugin. The user can always nudge the model to use a plugin by asking the model to use a plugin explicitly, like 'Use Expedia to plan my NYC trip.'”
Using Kayak’s plugin, consumers can
have more conversational interactions with its search engine. For example, if
someone asks, “I’m looking for a hotel in New York City that’s close to Central
Park,” ChatGPT can understand the request and ask Kayak to provide suitable recommendations, which when
clicked take the user to Kayak's website or app.
Subscribe to our newsletter below
“We’ve had several chat products in the past – voice and text-based
- and initially it wasn’t a great experience to go through all these results ...
but when you are in early exploration … I think there are a lot of use cases for
having ChatGPT support you in that and that’s really exciting,” says Matthias
Keller, chief scientist at Kayak.
“Right now we can see the beginning
of a few examples like searching for a flight and hotel in the same question or
asking it to compare destinations. It’s definitely very impressive
Similarly, using Expedia’s plugin,
ChatGPT users can get details on specific flights, accommodations – including
rentals from Vrbo - and experiences and then click through to Expedia to book
When asked if Expedia Group will also integrate ChatGPT technology
into the search function on its brand websites, chief technology officer Rathi
Murthy said via email, “It’s safe to assume that we’re continuing to experiment
with this technology.”
Kayak says its work with OpenAI
began only a few weeks ago, and Keller says he has been impressed with the company’s
careful approach to user privacy.
“For instance, we don’t see the conversations. We see that ChatGPT
wants to have flight prices from [for example] New York to San Francisco, but we
have no insight into how it was asked, how the decision was made, how the whole
conversation looks. This is all abstracted from us,” Keller says.
“If I search, the only information available is that it is a
person from Massachusetts searching. So it is very limited insight we have, but
we definitely will be interested in finding out what people are trying to do
and how to support these use cases better.”
Along with Expedia and Kayak, plugins have been created by OpenTable,
Shopify, Instacart, Slack, Klarna and several other companies. ChatGPT is inviting its Plus subscribers to join a waitlist to get access to plugins, with plans to roll them out more widely in the future.
In February, Trip.com launched a chatbot
within its mobile app that is built on an API from OpenAI and has functionality
similar to ChatGPT.
Also last month, Expedia Group’s senior
vice president and chief architect Rajesh Naidu discussed the potential of ChatGPT in a PhocusWire LinkedIn Audio event. Listen to the full discussion, which also included Microsoft global director of travel, transportation and hospitality Shane O’Flaherty and
Kayak co-founder and serial entrepreneur Paul English, below.