Kayak founder launches Lola, a novel hybrid travel app that uses AI as well as human agents

Paul English has just launched Lola, a travel app that incorporates machine learning but also uses a small team of human travel agents.

Paul English, was one of the founders of Kayak, a travel services metasearch engine, that was sold to Priceline group in 2013. Paul English has just launched Lola, a novel approach at intelligent travel assistants, that incorporates machine learning but also uses a small team of human travel agents.

The artificial intelligence component analyses Gmail headers on authentication, and derives information on airline, hotel and travel preferences. There is also a sign up profile that asks a series of questions from the user, aimed at personalisation of the service. All of this information is served to a cluster of human travel agents, who reply to the users in an asynchronous chat based interface.

Lola hopes to handle all your travelling needs, from booking flights, to hotel rooms, to restaurant tables. Launch coverage by Venture Beat and Boston Magazine have Paul English explaining the reasoning behind using this hybrid approach for making a travel app.

Lola is as of now a free, iOS exclusive application. The software is expected to launch for on the Android platform later this year. The monetisation model for the app, when it gets implemented, is expected to be a yearly subscription fee. Lola is also invite only for now, so those who want to try it out have to find someone who is using the service. Lola is expected to stay invite only for the rest of the year.

This bucks the trend of emerging technologies that totally do away with humans for the process of booking. Viv uses complex natural language understanding models to quickly extract intent from different types of voice input. Microsoft representatives showed off in a Microsoft Bot Framework keynote, a series of platform agnostic bots that can invisibly hand over the user from one to another, through Cortana. This implementation had the airline, hotels and restaurants involved in the process all having their own intelligent bots.

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