Expedia Group turns to AI to improve online search experience for Asian travellers


Online travel booking company Expedia Group has collaborated with AI Singapore (AISG) to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) solution to transform the online search experience for Asian travellers. When completed, the AI solution will enable Expedia Group to deepen its understanding of travel search query patterns and nuances in Asian languages, and equip the platform with the ability to serve the needs of Asian travellers better by improving the accuracy and efficiency of search query resolution.

According to a press release, the performance of the search engines decline significantly and the accuracy of query resolution dips when dealing with travel search queries conducted in Asian languages such as Japanese, Korean, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese.

To tackle this issue, the Expedia Group and AI Singapore project team will leverage natural language processing and machine learning to develop an AI-based model to enhance search query understanding and resolution in the Japanese language, before extending the model to other Asian languages to enhance online search efficiency.

As the first online travel platform on board AISG's 100 Experiments (100E) programme, Expedia Group will provide a team of experienced engineers, data scientists and marketers to work with the AISG’s project lead, project managers and AI apprentices to enhance travel search query understanding and improve the accuracy of search query resolution in Asian languages.

AISG’s flagship 100E programme matches companies which are keen to use AI to address their problem statements, with the local researchers who are interested to tackle those problems. Since its launch in 2017, more than 300 companies have contacted AISG with interest to participate in the 100E programme and 40 projects have been approved.

[Digital Marketing Asia Conference 2019 in Singapore is back! Join us on 8-9 October as we hear from experienced practitioners and thought-leaders on how they are managing complex digital transitions and reimagining new ways for their marketing to become more customer focused, agile and interactive. Book your seats today.]

With language processing research focused predominantly in English, Kevin Ng, senior director, product and technology at Expedia Group, explained that the company sees a "critical need" to look at leveraging technologies to enhance its AI solution to improve the efficiency of search query resolution for Asian languages. “Through the collaboration with AI Singapore, this will not only enable us to gather the right data, technology and talents to build a viable AI solution that can enhance search query understanding, it also enables us to transform the online search experience for Asian travellers to better serve our consumers in the long haul,” he added.

Expedia Group president and CEO Mark Okerstrom said the company currently has more than 7,000 data artchitects, artificial intelligence experts and engineering specialists. "This collaboration with AISG has the potential to unlock new and industry-leading AI solutions to improve online travel, bringing the world within reach for those shopping for travel online in Asian languages," he said.

"While we collaborate and co-create the machine learning solution with Expedia Group, we are also using the opportunity to train Singaporean AI engineers via the AI Apprenticeship Programme,” added Laurence Liew, director, AI industry innovation, AI Singapore.