Expedia today unveiled a rather smart, rather simple little bot for Facebook Messenger. The bot is designed to do one thing and do it well: It helps travelers book hotels. What’s more, the bot is extremely intuitive. As in easy-to-use. For the tech savvy, this may seem like a big “duh,” but simplicity matters given that bots are still in their infancy and Expedia’s customer base spans all walks of life: the company owns more than 200 travel booking sites from Orbitz to HomeAway to Trivago to Hotels.com.
While the bot took only about 5 weeks to develop, Expedia got a head start in making it so smart. “Our work with natural language processing and machine learning – the tools that helped get us here – have been going on for years,” said Tarran Street, senior public relations manager. “For us it’s all about experimentation to better understand travelers’ needs. The rise of mobile means people are starting to move away from the mouse and traditional keyboard, we want to be sure our products are available wherever travelers are searching.”