HomeToGo: Helping customers find their dream vacation home with generative AI

The annual vacation: whether it’s a weekend at the beach or a far-flung adventure, choosing the right trip is one of the most significant decisions many people make all year. At HomeToGo, it’s important to us that travelers find exactly the right accommodation for their needs. As the SaaS-enabled marketplace with the world’s largest selection of vacation rentals, HomeToGo’s vision is to make incredible homes easily accessible to everyone. That’s easier said than done. The short term rental segment is both highly competitive and extremely fragmented, making it challenging for travelers to find the right accommodation. 

We have millions of properties on our site, from thousands of trusted providers, with vacation rentals ranging from individual private homes to property managers to listings from major travel brands. Given this complexity, we use the latest technology solutions to expertly match supply and demand. One key to our success has been our use of AI to fit the right property with the right traveler, driving conversions for our partners while helping guests find their uniquely ideal home with minimal fuss. 

HomeToGo has an extensive history with AI innovation. Our highly flexible search capability uses machine learning to understand what customers are really looking for, returning relevant results in seconds. As AI has evolved, we’ve continued to innovate. We never use technology for technology’s sake, but always to inform our user experience or meet a particular challenge. With our generative AI-powered travel planner, AI Mode, for example, travelers can naturally interact with an AI assistant to find their ideal home. Meanwhile, a range of internal AI tools such as engineering assistance, quality assistance, and image verification drive efficiency across the business. We are now entering a new phase of AI innovation, working closely with Google Cloud to expand our use of generative AI as we continue to progress towards our product vision to become a fully AI-powered marketplace. 

Helping customers make better decisions, faster

Having used Google to fuel our paid marketing since HomeToGo’s launch ten years ago, we’re now building on that long-standing relationship by using Google Cloud Large Language Models (LLMs) and Vertex AI to help customers find the perfect property faster and easier than ever before. 

One example of this is leveraging Google Cloud’s Gemini models, which are now being tested to power HomeToGo Smart AI Reviews. These generative AI-summarized reviews conveniently highlight the key points of trusted guest reviews to give travelers an instant snapshot of the most loved features of a home. With thousands of partners listing millions of properties on our site, customers previously had to scroll through hundreds of reviews, written in numerous languages, making it time consuming to build a picture of other travelers’ experiences. With our Smart AI Reviews, all that time consuming work is gone. The summary shows all the relevant details of previous travelers’ likes and dislikes, in clear, simple language, empowering customers to find and book the perfect rental in far less time. 

Bringing complex projects to life in a secure way

While the concept is straightforward, we’re leveraging Google Cloud’s Vertex AI platform as part of HomeToGo’s central AI application, AI Autobahn, which strategically remains LLM agnostic. Using Gemini is a key example of how we customize which LLMs we choose based on which capabilities fit a use case. With its ability to draw data from a wide variety of sources in numerous formats and languages, Gemini enables us to present a clear, translated summary within the product page that neatly and truthfully summarizes the reviews in a way the guest can understand. 

Google Cloud’s commitment to data protection was also a key factor in our decision. For our Smart AI Reviews to be effective, it’s essential they’re accurate, and don’t generate false or misleading information. With Google Cloud’s focus on good data governance, we can be confident that the content of its LLMs is safe to consume. Like Google Cloud, we take our responsibility to data governance extremely seriously, and have built extensive security protocols into our AI gateway to prevent unauthorized data entering our LLMs. With Google Cloud’s own commitment to not using our customer data to train its own LLMs, our customers’ data privacy remains secure. 

Taking off for exciting destinations with Google Cloud and AI

Our Smart AI Reviews are just one example of our innovation with generative AI. We are currently exploring a range of features and services to help improve the traveler experience and increase conversion for our partners. These may include virtual property tours, personalized recommendations, and an image-sorting system to ensure that customers’ search terms are reflected in the image search results. For example, a search for pet-friendly apartments would deliver relevant results with an image of each property featuring a pet. 

Again, delivering this simplicity to customers requires complexity behind the scenes, making it important to have the right platform to support this kind of development. With Vertex AI, we have a highly configurable, capable AI platform with the range of controls we need to develop our more complex AI use cases. And because it sits on top of the full arsenal of Google Cloud, Vertex AI not only allows us to build sophisticated AI solutions, but also gives us the tools to significantly reduce the development time, helping us to make releases more quickly. This sets us apart from other industry players who wait for structured, seasonal launch dates and, for a business like ours with big ambitions driven by a lean team, this efficiency makes a real difference. 

For HomeToGo, the traveler experience is everything. As we continue to innovate with AI, we will seize any opportunity to improve our customer journey and simplify the booking process. We’re confident in our collaboration with Google Cloud’s Vertex AI as one key step as we accelerate towards becoming a fully AI-powered marketplace. We’re excited to work together as we help more HomeToGo guests find their dream vacation home.

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