American Express acquires AI travel assistant startup Mezi

American Express acquires AI travel assistant startup Mezi

American Express announced that it has acquired Mezi, the startup behind a human-assisted shopping and travel agent chatbot. 


Founded out of Sunnyvale, California in 2015, Mezi is a personal travel assistant that improves the more you use it. It can automatically check you in or reschedule flights, request vegetarian meals on the plane, and arrange associated travel services, such as car rentals and restaurant reservations.


While some elements of the service are entirely driven by artificial intelligence (AI), other facets combine bots with human agents to ensure users can access additional customization options.


Above: Mezi


The startup had raised around $12 million in funding, the bulk of which arrived via a $9 million series A round back in 2016 that ushered in American Express as an investor, via its VC arm.


Mezi had previously partnered with American Express for a pilot project called AskAmex, an app aimed at helping American Express customers find and book travel-related services from their iPhone. This pilot will continue to run through the first half of 2018, according to American Express.


“Mezi’s AI-powered experience opens up exciting new ways for us to connect with and serve our card members and creates opportunities for us to build more meaningful relationships with them,” said Phil Norman, VP of American Express Digital Labs, in a statement. “With messaging emerging as channel of choice for many, and the demand for unique experiences increasing, we believe the combination of Mezi’s capabilities with our global network of expert travel counselors creates a differentiated, high-touch service experience for our card members.”


In terms of what lies ahead for Mezi, well, the plan seems to be to continue running it as is, but as a subsidiary of American Express, where the Mezi team will continue to “develop its core technologies and enhance its capabilities” in the travel assistant realm.