Part 1: The revolution
Chatbots and travel go hand in hand! In fact, Artificial Intelligence is set to be a game-changer for this industry, through helping travellers and companies simplifying travel arrangements and streamlining business procedures. AI impact is massive and it has the power to transform the business completely! A travel bot can help save users’ time, organize their trip or suggest places to visit and all this is available on our favourite messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger. The bot will be accessible 24/7, support different languages and give immediate response to travellers’ queries. But perhaps the most important feature of AI is: the power to learn! AI is continuously becoming smarter, more helpful and, eventually, more powerful. The list of benefits and advantages is almost endless and that is why several travel brands have been adopting this tech-disruptive trend. In today’s post, I’m looking at the top 3 chatbots in travel industry:
Expedia.com is an Online Travel Agency that can be used to book airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rentals, cruises and vacation packages. Although Expedia allows users to search for hotels, flights, cruises and cars, its Facebook Messenger bot, currently, only searches for hotels. Users simply need to open Facebook Messenger and tell the bot a little bit about their travel plans. Once it has enough information, the five most popular hotel options in the chosen location will be shown. By clicking on any of the hotels suggested, the user will be re-directed to Expedia’s website where can book directly. The minute the booking is finished, the users will receive a message in Messenger with a link to the itinerary.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ chatbot operates differently than the other previously mentioned. KLM makes use of Facebook Messenger’s checkbox plugin on the checkout page so that people can opt-in to receive booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding pass and flight status updates via Messenger. Presently, the chatbot has 13 languages and it was built from the need to improve and simplify customer service. In a typical week, KLM has to respond to 15,000 social conversations in a dozen different languages. Consequently, they started exploring new ways to provide a great, personalised but at the same time fast customer care and that’s why they opted to implement a chatbot. In first month, their volume of Facebook messages jumped 40 percent. KLM said 1.7 million messages have been sent on Messenger by over 500,000 people.
Booking.com has grown from a small Dutch start-up to one of the largest travel e-commerce companies in the world. With the goal of empowering people to experience the world, Booking highly invests in digital technology that helps take the friction out of travel and that’s why they decided to build a chatbot. Travellers can use the bot on their desktop, mobile website or in the app where they can check availability, look for information like check-in times or even reserve a parking spot. There is one especially notable feature in the chatbot that is worth mentioning: the two-sided nature which allows users to initiate a conversation involving their account and lets hotels send notifications. This chatbot was built with the intent of being a vehicle to facilitate an even more personalised, gratifying and seamless travel experience.
Chatbots are solving various problems in the travel sector and brands can only benefit from having one. They have the potential to provide a seamless customer care. Travel bots are able to solve queries, give suggestions or initiate transactions. With so much potential comes the added benefit of all time availability. This ensures enhanced customers’ engagement with the brand even more than an app. In addition, chatbots by handling routine queries, save precious time of customer care service representatives, allowing them to perform more complex problems and tasks. Lastly, bots are an excellent profiling tool, by collecting data such as purchase history, they are able to personalise the travellers’ experience. This will bring the personal touch expected by the travellers for a long time!