Mondee Adds Mobile App and AI Chatbot for Travel Booking – Skift Travel News

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Justin Dawes, Skift
July 19th, 2023 at 4:49 PM EDT
A mobile app, online shopping cart, and easier group travel booking are highlights in a world of outdated tech for travel agents.
Justin Dawes
Exactly one year since it went public, Mondee has released an updated version of its travel booking platform to include a mobile app and a generative AI chatbot. 
This update is the culmination of three years of work and a group of acquisitions that happened during the pandemic, said Orestes Fintiklis, vice chairman for Mondee.
“We are unifying everything under one brand — the Mondee brand,” Fintiklis said. “Mondee before was just the holding company of many brands. Since we went public, it makes a lot of sense for people to associate our brands with the whole, with Mondee.”
Mondee provides travel agents access to a wholesale tech marketplace for booking on behalf of their customers, as well as software products to manage their business.
Mondee was founded in 2011 and acquired seven travel tech companies in the next year, focused solely on selling flights wholesale. Mondee invested nearly $200 million between 2012 and 2015 to create a software platform and then made additional acquisitions when the pandemic hit to expand its offerings. 
Mondee during the pandemic opened the use of its product beyond just traditional travel agents to include users such as freelancers and social media influencers. Businesses can also subscribe to Mondee as a service, giving employees access to discounted travel as a benefit. 
Agents can book on behalf of customers, or customers can book themselves with an access link. Consumers have access to wholesale prices even when they book on their own, and the agent who provided the link gets a commission. 
Fintiklis believes the convenience of the mobile app will lead to more people turning to travel agents to book simple trips, when normally they might book through a consumer platform like Expedia. 
In addition to wholesale flights, hotels, and car rentals, the updated platform includes cruises. And there are more products coming, like tickets for sporting events, theme parks, and concerts. 
The updated app can be used in 20 languages and enables purchases in 20 currencies. The previous version had two languages and one currency. 
The updated version also includes a shopping cart so that users can save different aspects of a trip and then purchase them all together. Individuals from a group planning a trip can view the cart and book everything simultaneously, rather than having to book individually. 
The integration of generative AI into the platform has led to one of the most impressive final products in this early stage of the tech, certainly more useful than anything released so far by the large online travel agencies. 
Users can ask the chatbot, called Abhi, to suggest a trip in a certain place. Before responding, the chatbot asks for details, such as origin city, length of stay, travel dates, and interests. 
The chatbot then presents results that include links for booking flights, hotels, and more, and saves that itinerary for the user to revisit later. 
Unlike most other platforms, clicking on links does not open new browser tabs. Rather, clicking a link for flights redirects the Mondee page that the user is on, while the chatbot window stays open and active. The user can then view multiple flight options and add one to the cart. Clicking the link for hotels shows a page that maps out several options. 
Prasad Gundumogula, CEO of Mondee, believes the company will be able to harness interactions from its 65,000 travel agent users the company works to strengthen its model and data. 
“Using the knowledge base that we have, and connectivity to experts that nobody else has access to — they are who we use, what we use to train our models, and be able to bring that personalized expertise and personalized experiences to our customer base,” Gundumogula said during a presentation Wednesday. “What you have seen today is just the beginning.” 
Mondee has been making an effort to expand in the Latin America market in particular. 
The company acquired Brazil-based Orinter in January for $40 million. Two acquisitions followed in May: Mexico-based Consolid Mexico Holding for $8.9 million and Brazil-based Interep for $8.9 million. 
All of the most recent acquisitions, along with all going forward, are meant to accelerate growth, including in different geographies, Fintiklis said.
“There are a number of acquisitions [on the way],” Fintiklis said. “The next areas that we’re focusing are Middle East, Europe, and India.”
Mondee went public in July 2022 via special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, with a market capitalization of approximately $740 million. The stock debuted on the market at $11.05 per share. 
Mondee has spent much of the year with stock above $10 per share, but it fell sharply in early June and reached a 12-month low earlier this week. The stock, at $6.69 Wednesday, is down 27% this year.
The company in May reported a first quarter revenue of $699 million, up 46% from the year prior, and EBITDA of $4 million, up 80%.
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Justin Dawes, Skift
July 19th, 2023 at 4:49 PM EDT
Tags: artificial intelligence, generative ai, influencers, mondee, software, spacs, travel agencies, travel agents, travel booking
Photo credit: Mondee updated its platform for software agents a year after going public. Joshua Woroniecki / Pixabay
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