Airbnb, Mondee strikes sign position of acquisitions in journey’s race for AI

Generative synthetic intelligence has been the subject of 2023, and corporations have taken observe with bigwigs talking brazenly about plans to combine the know-how.

However Airbnb’s current acquisition of GamePlanner.AI and Mondee’s acquisition of Purplegrids – each introduced final week – trace at a distinct form of technique, one that will have developed within the curiosity of velocity as business heads race in the direction of an AI-focused future.

Paul English, co-founder of Kayak and founding father of Deets, which offers journey guides powered by AI, stated that “each single firm” will change with the appearance of AI. However he doesn’t consider that evolution will stem top-down.

“Incumbents typically don’t lead platform shifts – it is by no means occurred within the business – newcomers do,” English stated throughout an interview this week at The Phocuswright Conference in Fort Lauderdale. “I believe it is rather clever for Airbnb and different corporations to do some acquisitions (of) some younger corporations as a result of younger corporations – it’s a truth – they transfer sooner. And the factor that wins in know-how is whoever has the quickest cycles with the smallest groups.”

Airbnb, Mondee on buying AI platforms

With Airbnb’s Tuesday announcement that it’s shopping for GamePlanner.AI and Mondee’s Wednesday announcement of its Purplegrids buy, the brand new mother or father corporations are in search of to implement extra AI into their very own methods.

Orestes Fintiklis, vice chairman and chief company technique and enterprise improvement officer at Mondee, stated with the acquisition of Purplegrids, Mondee has change into “among the many first journey verticals” that’s acquired its personal full AI platform.


As AI improves, extra vertical-specific options will emerge. They will be snapped up by giant corporations and put to work at scale.

Evan Konwiser – Amex GBT

“The truth that the transaction closed on the identical day that Airbnb acquired GamePlanner.AI validates the thesis that essentially the most environment friendly and speedy method to enhancing an AI platform is to use it to deep, vertical information,” Fintiklis stated. “Within the case of Airbnb/GamePlanner, that’s traveler-behavior information. Within the case of Mondee/Purplegrids, much more uniquely, each traveler-behavior and expert-curation information.”  

Upon its acquisition, Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO, referred to as GamePlanner.AI “particular.”

“AI will quickly alter our world greater than every other know-how in our lifetime, however we have to be certain that it augments humanity in a constructive means,” Chesky. “Airbnb is without doubt one of the extra humanistic corporations in know-how, and I consider that, collectively … we will develop a few of the greatest interfaces and sensible purposes for AI.”

As for what Airbnb will use GamePlanner.AI’s tech for, Christian Watts, founder and CEO of Magpie Journey, believes it could change into the idea for an Airbnb AI journey agent – one thing Chesky has talked about previously.

“In all probability voice first, which could be a soar, but when anyone can soar to a voice-first instrument, it is a tech and shopper model like Airbnb,” Watts stated. 

Fintiklis added that Mondee is making use of AI within the context of it working as a journey assistant however stated it may be utilized all over the place. “It is going to be the continuation of the journey, not simply within the entrance finish, however each facet of our enterprise.”

Mondee’s value construction is essentially made up of gross sales and advertising and marketing, so Fintiklis expects to make use of AI for advertising and marketing effectivity to start with, with the contingency that it may be utilized in each space of enterprise.

Will extra large names purchase small AI platforms?

English stated he sees extra acquisitions taking place. 

Sometimes, when there’s a platform shift, English stated large corporations have a tendency to purchase up smaller corporations. 

For instance, he stated, when the web was rising with the unique model of the net pushed out into the world, large tech corporations snapped up younger web groups. 

“It occurred [later] with cell, and it’s taking place once more in AI, and I believe it’s going to occur in a giant means,” English stated.

Evan Konwiser, chief advertising and marketing and technique officer for American Express Global Business Travel was on the identical web page as English.

“This isn’t a shock, and there will likely be extra to return,” Konwiser stated. “Amex GBT purchased 30 Seconds to Fly in 2020 for a similar causes – to reinforce and speed up our inside AI capabilities with confirmed groups.” 

So far as how far the acquisitions go, Konwiser stated we’re “scratching the floor.” 

“As AI improves, extra vertical-specific options will emerge,” he stated. “They will be snapped up by giant corporations and put to work at scale.”

Watts agreed, noting “one would count on to see most of the large gamers snapping up smaller corporations.” However he added a caveat: Firms could wind up paying a excessive worth to include already developed AI from smaller platforms.

“When it’s a must to transfer shortly, and everyone has to maneuver shortly now, you overpay,” Watts stated. “It is not essentially a foul factor – velocity to market can trump all different valuation fundamentals in a time like this, with GenAI disrupting industries at a tempo by no means seen earlier than.”