This is a very convenient feature available in Outlook. You may be using it even without knowing about it. Outlook can analyze your incoming emails and create calendar entries (events) based upon them. Four categories are understood as of now, flight bookings, hotel reservations, car bookings and package delivery.
This is based upon machine learning algorithms – no human is looking at your emails. Once a mail is detected as an event, a calendar entry is created automatically. Here is an example of a travel booking.
This mail was automatically processed by Outlook and the following calendar event was created:
In addition, it created a reminder 3 hours before the departure time. That’s nice but there is more. Exactly 24 hours before the flight departure, I received an email reminder for checking-in. This reminder did not originate in my calendar. It came from a generic reminder service.
Customize automatic processing
To change these settings, go to Outlook web access – Options (the gears wheel) – Automatic processing. Notice that the Package Delivery option is not selected by default.
Although it sounds fairly simple, the internal working of this feature is quite complex. Why? Because there are thousands of different formats for hotel and flight booking mails. It has to understand the relevant fields and create the calendar events. This is where machine learning is helping us – behind the scenes.