October 12, 2017

Kayak sees potential with voice technology-assisted bookings


Virtual assistants can do far more than find the nearest gas station or get the score of a big game. Now they can help users schedule their next vacation.

Reflecting the prevalence and sophistication of artificial-intelligence services, Stamford-based travel firm Kayak has quickly expanded its use of the technology in the past two years. Among its latest innovations, it has launched hotel booking with Amazon devices featuring the voice-activated Alexa assistant.

“This work is based on the explosion of everyone having one of these devices in the house, starting around the end of 2015,” said Kayak Chief Scientist Matthias Keller. “And, in the past, we’ve had great success with being early on new technologies. Our people were really excited about this, and it was a great match to develop with Alexa.”

The Kayak service on Alexa - known as a “skill” - launched in May 2016. In its first iteration, it allowed users to search hotels, flights and rental cars; provided updates on flight arrivals and departures; and gave travel recommendations for given budgets.

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