LAS VEGAS -- Expedia Group is launching a bot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that is designed to help their lodging partners maximize growth. Rolling out in the first half of next year, the tool will be available on the Expedia PartnerCentral platform.

"When we think about our lodging business, we have created a lot of tools," said Brand Expedia Group president Aman Bhutani at the Expedia Partner Conference here on Thursday. "But we realized earlier this year that we now need a piece of AI to actually recommend which tool to use. Because if you are trying to act on something, should you be using a promotion or a travel ad or additional inventory?"

Bhutani showcased the new technology with several voice-activated video bot demos. One of the video bots took the form of Expedia Lodging Partner Services president Cyril Ranque, with that demo focusing on how the tool could help drive revenue for a lodging partner. By leveraging historical demand data, the hyper-realistic "Cyril bot" was able to tell the partner the number of additional rooms that should be made available on a specific date to maximize revenue and, with approval, instantly add that inventory to Expedia.  

Bhutani added that the bot wasn't limited to video or voice usage but could also be used in a chat format. The bot also has the capability to operate in different languages and can be personalized to meet the needs of each partner.

Additionally, Bhutani announced that Expedia is working on developing an app capability called Skip the Line, which is centered on car rental. That innovation, which allows users to book a rental car on the Expedia app and head directly to their assigned car when they arrive at their destination, is slated to debut in the first quarter of 2019. 

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