Google’s AI to Power Virtual Travel Agent from Priceline

Google logo and AI Artificial Intelligence words are seen in this illustration taken, May 4, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Google logo and AI Artificial Intelligence words are seen in this illustration taken, May 4, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration


Want a New York hotel near a Christmas market, a vegan restaurant, or another attraction?

Look no further than artificial intelligence from Google at Priceline as early as this summer, the companies told Reuters.

The online travel agency, part of Booking Holdings), aims to debut a more sophisticated chatbot for planning trips, as well as hotel suggestions that are like “a personal concierge” tailored to users, said Martin Brodbeck, Priceline’s chief technology officer.

“You can easily find out that in Bryant Park there’s a Christmas market that runs from early November all the way through the beginning of January when you’re actually booking your hotel,” he said.

Priceline now has access to generative AI thanks to new tools from Google’s cloud division, such as the technology behind ChatGPT, which can draft content as if it were written by a human. To assure accuracy, the programs also harvest information such as hotel pricing from current data.

Priceline’s use of modern technology may offer it an advantage against the plethora of sites that market travel options, including Google. According to Brodbeck, the relationship was prompted by Google’s capabilities rather than rivalry.

For Google, drawing business through AI represents a potential way to close the gap with rivals Amazon and Microsoft, against which it has long been a distant No.3 provider of cloud services like data storage.

The ability to build applications atop technology that Google pioneered has attracted customers new and old, said Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud’s CEO.

“There is a kind of a Cambrian moment happening now where there’s an explosion of this technology,” Kurian told Reuters, referring to the extraordinary prehistoric period when a wide array of new species emerged.

He declined to comment on how free corporate previews affected Google Cloud’s profitability, but he did say that the company was focused on cost optimization and that with outstanding products, the “business will take care of itself.”

According to Brodbeck, Google’s AI will be used to generate coding suggestions for hundreds of software developers at Priceline, among other things. For employee intranets, Priceline will use Google’s search capabilities. In addition, Google’s AI will accelerate marketing for popular destinations.

“You could have it create images like a beautiful beach, and you could marry that with great generative-AI copy,” Brodbeck said.

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