Expedia Group today announced a collaboration with AI Singapore (AISG) under its flagship 100 Experiments (100E) programme to develop an artificial intelligence (AI) solution to transform the online search experience for Asian travellers. As the first online travel platform to collaborate with AISG for 100E, 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.
With English as the dominant language being used online by 25% of all Internet users, today’s search engines are extremely efficient in understanding travel search queries and providing query resolutions in the English language. However, when dealing with travel search queries conducted in Asian languages such as Japanese, Korean, simplified Chinese and traditional Chinese, the performance of the search engines decline significantly and the accuracy of query resolution dips. For a start, 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.
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 travel platform with the ability to serve the needs of Asian travellers better by improving the accuracy and efficiency of search query resolution.
“All across Asia Pacific, online travel spending is growing at a very rapid pace. By 2020, the Asia Pacific region will account for more than 40% of global online travel sales, surpassing North America and Western Europe. With language processing research focused predominantly in English, Expedia Group sees a critical need to look at leveraging technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing to enhance our AI solution to improve the efficiency of search query resolution for Asian languages,” said Kevin Ng, Senior Director, Product and Technology, Expedia Group. “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.”
“Under AISG’s 100E collaboration with Expedia Group, machine learning is applied to better understand search queries for Asian languages in the growing online travel market in Asia. More importantly, 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,” said Laurence Liew, Director, AI Industry Innovation, AI Singapore.
“Expedia Group is the world’s travel platform. With more than 7,000 data artchitects, artificial intelligence experts and engineering specialists at Expedia Group, 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. We are excited to collaborate with AISG and look forward to working with some of Singapore’s world-class tech talents,” said Mark Okerstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer, Expedia Group.
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. The 100E programme has received strong industry interest to date. Since its launch in 2017, more than 300 companies have contacted AISG with interest to participate in the 100E programme; 40 projects have been approved and started with some projects completed and deployed after nine months of research and development.
 Source: Statista most common languages used on the internet as of April 2019: https://www.statista.com/statistics/262946/share-of-the-most-common-languages-on-the-internet/
 Source: Statista Distribution of Digital Travel Sales Worldwide from 2014 to 2020, by region: https://www.statista.com/statistics/499760/forecast-of-online-travel-sales-share-by-region/