By Bronwyn White, co-founder, MyTravelResearch.com
Chatbots can be simply defined as artificial intelligence programs that conduct conversations with humans through chat interfaces.
Consider a chatbot as a personal assistant who can respond to enquiries or give recommendations on a certain topic in a real-time manner.
Research shows that more consumers are using messaging apps compared to social networks, and this trend is fast extending to the travel industry where we are seeing chatbots as messenger apps being rolled out as a new and immediate interface of customer interaction.
The combined global monthly active users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn are between three and 3.5 billion, which lags compared to the combined active users of messenger apps including WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber at around 3.7 billion.
How Chatbots will Change the Travel Industry
Expedia leading the way
Expedia is leading the rest of the field in terms of deploying chatbots to engage customers on their websites and social media. Chatting with Expedia in Messenger allows the traveller to book a hotel within the app, only being redirected to the Expedia website to input payment details.
Some 4 to 5 years ago, this simple process was one of the main reasons why hotlines were always busy. Now, with chatbots, customers can easily manage their own bookings without needing to wait on the line for the next available representative.
Kayak is one of the best-loved bots in the travelling scene. All the information you will ever need about flights, rental cars, hotels, and activities are fully integrated into its program. But it doesn’t stop there. Kayak goes beyond by giving travellers the option to view a list of places they could go on a specific budget, and keeps travellers updated on future travel plans through Messenger. This practically draws the traveller back to the marketing funnel, creating a loop in the customer life cycle, which translates to maximised returns.
By using intelligent chatbots to respond to traveller enquiries, your business can concentrate on other areas of opportunity such as mapping out plans to increase repeat business and gaining loyalty for future travels.
MyTravelResearch.com will be covering this topic in the upcoming Tourism Marketing Rockstar Convention, 14 September 2017. The annual conference will be held in the world-famous Bondi Icebergs, Bondi Beach. Click here to register.