150 successful Machine Learning models: 6 lessons learned at Booking.com
Pablo Estevez, Themistoklis Mavridis and Lucas Bernardi
Booking.com is the world’s largest online travel agent where millions of guests find their accommodation and millions of accommodation providers list their properties including hotels, apartments, bed and breakfasts, guest houses, and more. During the last years we have applied Machine Learning to improve the experience of our customers and our business. While most of the Machine Learning literature focuses on the algorithmic or mathematical aspects of the field, not much has been published about how Machine Learning can deliver meaningful impact in an industrial environment where commercial gains are paramount. We conducted an analysis on about 150 successful customer facing applications of Machine Learning, developed by dozens of teams in Booking.com, exposed to hundreds of millions of users worldwide and validated through rigorous Randomized Controlled Trials. Following the phases of a Machine Learning project we describe our approach, the many challenges we found, and the lessons we learned while scaling up such a complex technology across our organization. Our main conclusion is that an iterative, hypothesis driven process, integrated with other disciplines was fundamental to build 150 successful products enabled by Machine Learning.
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