Over the last decade, the travel sector has grown by leaps and bounds. The travel and tourism industry added a record $8.8 trillion to the world’s combined GDP in 2018 solely, growing more than most other sectors in the last year. As traveling has picked up exponentially over the last decade, so have travel companies. To cater to the needs and demands of the new-age digitally adept traveler, travel companies continue to seek new ways to improve customer journey and make travel more convenient.
With technological advancements, the way people now plan their trips has also changed. Gone are the days when people used to visit the local travel agents to book a flight or a hotel. Travel companies which understand the importance of digitizing their business have started transforming travel experience digitally to attract more travelers and retain their clients.
The latest technological implementation that has made a positive impact over businesses from various verticals is chatbot. Chatbots are computer programs, more like virtual companions, that communicate with us through text messages, using artificial intelligence. Chatbots are integrated with websites or messaging apps to help businesses automate their regular tasks.
Chatbots are increasingly being utilized by the travel sector to cater to new-age travelers and stand strong in the face of competition. Elucidated below are some use-cases where chatbots are benefitting the travel industry.
Flight and Hotel Bookings
Hotel and flight reservation is the primary part of trip planning. People scour through various apps and websites for the best hotels and the lowest flight prices. The process is exhaustive, confusing and time-consuming, to say the least.
A research conducted by Expedia shows that people visit 38 websites on an average while planning their getaways.
Chatbots provide a user-friendly, consistent and intuitive solution to the hassle of tiresome planning and complicated booking process. With chatbots, travelers can also approach your brand to seek recommendations and book flights and hotels via different channels like Facebook, Skype, Slack, Twitter, etc.
Big names like Skyscanner, Expedia, Booking.com have already implemented chatbots which provide flights and hotels recommendations and process bookings, thereby providing a simplistic and unifying experience to the user.
Chatbots are increasingly being preferred by consumers to communicate with a brand. It is no surprise that 69% of consumers prefer chatbots for quick communication with brands. In February 2018, Skyscanner reported having surpassed one million chatbot interactions. KLM, the European Airline industry leader, saw a 40% increase in customer interactions through its Facebook Messenger channel. No wonder 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020.
Not just recommendations and bookings, chatbots can be programmed to assist the traveler throughout the trip.
Right from deciding where to go to building an itinerary to tracking expenses, chatbots are increasingly becoming the go-to assistants for travelers. A chatbot presents a refreshing conversational replacement for boring long forms and probes the users about their preferences in an interactive manner.
Intelligent chatbots with machine learning and natural language processing capabilities can comprehend vague queries like “exotic beach destinations” to offer an elaborate set of services. A chatbot can suggest holiday spots to suit what the individual is looking for and offer the best recommendations on hotels and flights. After the user has selected the best suited offer, bookings and payments can also be processed within the chatbot itself. Post booking, providing a list of sight-seeing spots, info on popular local food, locating rental car service, local weather forecast, et all can be taken care of by the travel chatbot.
FCM Travel Solutions, global players in the travel management industry, launched its AI chatbot application named Sam which provides travel assistance at every stage of the trip. Focused mainly on business travel, Sam enables travel bookers and managers to manage their travel itineraries, alerts them about flight delays or cancellations, calculates travel expenses, and provides booking options in line with compliance and travel policies of the user’s company.
Customer Service Management
Human agents are not always available to provide prompt customer support during the holiday season or other peak travel times. Especially in the case of international travel, where time zones can become a hindrance in the path of people seeking immediate answers, chatbots can jump to the traveler’s rescue. Chatbot’s ability to work 24*7 tirelessly makes it ideal for the customer care department. Chatbots are live 24*7 on your website or application, thus the prospects landing on your website at any hour of the day are able to get their queries answered.
If the bot is asked something which requires a human agent to jump in, the bot can simply collect the details of the prospect and notify the human agent. The agent can then get back to the person with the required solution.
Some airports like Lyon Airport and Frankfurt Airport use travel chatbots to provide travelers with airport guides, flight status, and information about airport lounges, shops, restaurants, and more.
Chatbots can also be used to collect feedback from the customers. Chatbots can automatically send reminders to your customers urging them to write reviews and submit ratings for your services. What’s more, responding to customer complaints to avoid negative feedback can also be facilitated by the chatbot. Chatbots allow users to privately address their grievances, which with the help of Artificial Intelligence can be categorized and prioritized for easier handling. Thus, designated employees can address problems in the moment, before a negative review goes up on Google.
Chatbots come with multi-faceted benefits for businesses across verticals. 24*7 availability, prompt response, saved user history, unified user-experience are some of the many benefits of chatbots. In the era of digitization, chatbots provide a seamless and hassle-free experience to the users, thus making them stick to your brand.
It isn’t as easy as it seems to create a truly beneficial chatbot. It is important to design the chatbot such that it provides value to both the business and its customers. We, at WotNot, understand this and have worked with businesses across verticals to develop valuable and scalable chatbots that work as personal assistants and provide seamless experience to the customers.
We also have a predefined Travel Recommendation template where you can experience the chatbot for FREE. Take a minute and feel how you can access all the benefits listed above here.
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