Expedia’s Romie wants to be your AI travel agent

Rabbit unveiled the r1 AI gadget in early January, promising a device that can interact with apps instead of just answering questions and generating content. At the time, I already felt like that was functionality coming down the road to all smartphones. Once Rabbit launched the r1, it became clear the device was essentially an Android smartphone running a single “r1” app.

Fast-forward to mid-May, Expedia announced an “AI-powered travel buddy” called Romie. As the name might suggest, this chatbot is supposed to help you with all your traveling needs, whether it’s booking and canceling hotels, searching for attractions and securing tickets, or providing your loved ones with information about your itinerary.

Romie is one of many AI offerings that will help kill the Rabbit r1. As a reminder, one of the features Rabbit demoed in January was booking trips by voice. Then again, I’ll also say that Romie sounds like little more than a custom GPT, albeit one that has a very particular set of skills.

Considering the demos Expedia showed off for Romie, it looks like you’ll be able to integrate the AI travel assistant into your group chats, including end-to-end encrypted iMessage conversations. Apparently, all you need to do is add its phone number to a group chat.

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Talking to Romie in an iMessage group chat.Talking to Romie in an iMessage group chat. Image source: Expedia

Romie will be able to access the contents of the chat and offer travel-related suggestions based on it. It’ll act like a travel agent that can help you purchase plane tickets, book hotels, and make reservations for restaurants or other local attractions you might visit.

The chatbot will also let you personalize Expedia searches. You can add filters like early check-in or rooftop views to find hotels that match your needs. And Romie will apparently remember your preferences across searches.

It’s unclear how, but Romie might also get access to some of your emails. It might pull information from them and suggest restaurants and activities near your hotel, for example.

Romie offers suggestions for local attractions that match your interests.Romie offers suggestions for local attractions that match your interests. Image source: Expedia

Interestingly, Romie will also monitor things like the weather at your destination. It will advise if the weather might disrupt your plans and help with cancelations if need be. It’ll also provide alternatives to your initial itinerary so you can still make the most of your vacation.

Moreover, Romie will inform people in our group about your itinerary. That way, people picking you up from the airport will know if your flight is on time or delayed.

As I said before, the whole Romie experience sounds like a custom GPT model focused on working with Expedia properties. But it’s smarter than a custom GPT, as it can place orders for you and cancel reservations. That means Romie can access your payment information when needed. Furthermore, the ability to work with iMessage and email is interesting but not clearly explained.

Finally, it’s unclear what large language model powers Romie. Unless Expedia built it from the ground up, it could be ChatGPT.

Also, Expedia doesn’t say what happens with the user data that Romie can access. Furthermore, it’s unclear whether chats with Romie will help train the chatbot. But the AI assistant will be able to save your preferences.

You can add Romie to any group chat on iPhone to handle travel matters.You can add Romie to any group chat on your iPhone. Image source: Expedia

That said, Romie won’t be available to all Expedia users right away. Initially, Romie is available in beta via Expedia’s EG Labs. We should learn more about it as it rolls out more widely.

More AI experiences on Expedia

Expedia has other genAI travel experiences ready for travelers in addition to Romie. Travelers can access customized itineraries based on AI recommendations. Expedia and Hotels.com will also support self-service booking management to help with changes, cancelations, and air credit redemption.

AI will also help with the fine print related to your travels via updated Help Center experiences on Expedia and Hotels. Also, AI summaries will be available for guest reviews, which is a feature that should become standard for any travel site.

Expedia’s AI products will also support price comparisons for hotels and flights across dates on Expedia and Hotels.com in the US. A destination comparison feature will also be coming to Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo customers globally, letting them discover and compare new destinations.

While Romie is available in beta right away, the other AI features Expedia announced will roll out over the summer.


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