Amazon Alexa + KAYAK: The Story Behind the Skill

By Andrea Charriez

As you’ve probably heard, today marks the first day you can ask KAYAK “where can I go for $300?” and get a spoken response. All you need is Amazon Alexa and some vacation days.

Yes, voice-enabled travel search is happening. And we’re excited about it.

Before we tell you how our Alexa skill came to be, there are two things you need to know about the KAYAK tech team: 1) we love a good challenge and 2) when we’re passionate about something, we’re encouraged to give it a shot (sometimes literally, as one of our teammates moonlights as a mixologist… but that’s a story for another day).

When the head of our analytics team fell in love with Alexa and professed that love to the world, we knew he was onto something. Alexa was exactly what we needed to help us take our work with natural language processing to the next level.

So, we set up an Amazon Echo in the kitchen of our tech headquarters, formed an Innovation SWAT team (code for: this could be awesome, so let’s put some of our best minds on it and run with it) and began working on an integration that would start making Alexa a travel expert.

Initially, we’ve zeroed in on three areas of focus for Alexa: flight tracking, integration with our Explore tool (which shows you all the places you can fly within your budget) and giving her the power to search flights, hotels and rental cars.

And that’s just the beginning. Alexa is a quick study and the Amazon platform makes development seamless. A 2.0 version is already in the works.

Between Alexa, our Slack integration and a tech team that is passionate about using new and emerging technology to make travel planning easier – our innovation road-map is bursting at the seams.  Stay tuned.

*Photo Credit: Kaijian Gao