The tourism sector has been fundamentally reshaped by the new technologies that transformed the relations between online travel agencies and their customers.
Travelers are more connected and empowered. They prefer to get instant access to travel deals and interact with a travel agency using their mobile apps.
They also want a great experience and want to be treated like humans.
Even though traditional travel consultants are a thing of the past, excellent customer service is something that will never get out of date.
Instant access to information and services, mobile communication, and personalized experience can all be achieved using chatbot technology.
The importance of chatbot technology has increased over the past couple of years. It is a convenient way of booking trips that can be done anywhere and at any given time from a messaging app.
According to the Aspect Consumer Experience Index research, 44% surveyed said that they would prefer to use a chatbot to conduct all customer service interactions via text, chat and messaging.
Based on Statista survey the global chatbot market is predicted to reach 994 million U.S. dollars in 2024.
These factors show a growing appetite for chatbot solutions and the possibility to gain more revenue.
Online travel agencies (OTAs) should understand new dynamics and focus on this new type of interaction with travelers.
This will demand OTAs alter the way they offer their travel booking services, share information and receive payments.
Travel bots are providing tools to help travel online businesses increase efficiency, build deeper connections with customers, inspire new clients and enhance customer experience.
Improve customer experience with chatbot technology
Driven in part by the rapidly progressing maturity of natural language processing (NLP) and the popularity of mobile devices, it is no surprise that chatbot technologies are on the growth path.
The customer experience is more complicated now than ever.
Consumers bounce between channels and devices, online and offline. Engaging with them at the right time and in the right place is not a soft thing.
Because chatbots are add-ons to messaging platforms that people use every day, they offer excellent opportunities for customer interaction.
Online travel agencies can build a chatbot solution that responds quickly to user/customer demands and improves the omnichannel customer experience.
By implementing chatbot solutions, OTAs can create and implement a personalized user interface in real time. Bots allow automating customer service while helping OTAs save time and money.
To better understand how exactly chat bots work, let’s first take a look at the steps of the customer journey when interacting with an online travel agency.
The online customer journey with online travel agencies
Users search for the destination by filling in the destination field, adding the check-in and the check-out dates, then selecting the type of traveling, adding some rooms and people who are going to travel.
How do chatbots deliver this experience? Let’s check out!
The online customer journey with a chatbot
- They filter the hotel results by going to the property type and checking out a list of hotels based on their preferences.
- Then they sort through the hotels according to the top picks, the lowest price, stars, distance to the city center, review score.
- Users check out the hotel location, prices, look at all the room options available (non-smoking/smoking, rooms with/without private bathroom, the number of beds), and check the pictures for the accommodation.
- They book the room by filling in the forms with all the necessary information (name, email).
- Users manage the booking if there is a need to change any details of their trip from their account.
- They can also cancel the reservation online before their arrival if their plans change.
Below you can see a brief overview of some real examples of popular travel bots that help users on different stages of their customer journey.
1. Travel planning
Travel bots can provide you with simple flights and hotels overview based on customer-personalized options.
Travel assistant Mezi helps users find the most suitable place for their vacation.
2. Search for flight
A traveler can communicate with the travel brand via the chatbot solution via their desired channel.
Skyscanner bot for Facebook Messenger assists users in finding a particular flight depending on their date of journey.
3. Book a flight
After the user selects a flight, the travel chatbot will suggest purchasing it.
Hipmunk bot chats with the customer and collects all the details required for a chosen flight, then takes a user to a payment gateway to complete a purchase.
4. Web check-in
The traveler also has an option to perform web check-ins by simply messaging with the travel bot.
The KLM chatbot helps users with any questions. With a 24/7 customer service team on hand, KLM’s users can even change the seat number just by messaging the travel chatbot.
5. View trip
The traveler can also store their travel itinerary using the travel chatbot, view and update it at any time. Below you can see Skyscanner chatbot’s itinerary page where all the details of the trip are indicated.
Once all details were settled, chatbot can start sending essential notifications or alerts to the traveler. They are used to keep the travelers informed of the flight, delays, weather conditions and make their life more convenient, not seeming overbearing.
7. Rent a car
After the tickets have been selected, booked and purchased, the user can be offered to rent a car. Here is how Skyscanner chatbot does this.
8. Book a stay in a hotel
The user can book a stay in a hotel with the Expedia chatbot directly via the chat after their tickets have been booked and purchased or after their arrival at the airport.
Chatbots engage with the clients in a friendly, natural, and easy-to-understand manner.
With bots, you don’t need to keep a customer services team because chatbots can provide a 24/7 service giving answers to the most common questions.
If you want to create a human-like customer service, AI-based tools can help you implement this idea.
Your travel bot should be integrated with artificial intelligence to behave and work in a similar manner as a human does by responding to the user’s questions while chatting.
Below you can see AI-powered platforms that are essential for the chatbot service development and can be integrated through the API.
AI platforms needed to develop a chatbot for travel
- IBM Watson. Offers the ability to build bots that are powered by IBM’s extensive AI capabilities; Watson users have access to lots of sample code, starter kits and can build cognitive search engines and virtual agents.
- Wit.ai. Natural Language (NL) for developers that is used to build chatbots in an easy way.
- Api.ai. Conversational UX platform for mobile apps, wearables, robots, automotive, smart home and smart TV channels.
- ai-one. Lets developers create intelligent assistants within most software applications, provides a document library, building agents and APIs for developers.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS). Provides a set of artificial intelligence toolkits for developers, including Amazon Recognition Image, Amazon Lex and Amazon Polly. Recognition uses AI to add image interpretation and facial recognition to apps, which is often used for biometric security features.
- Rebot.me is a simple service that lets you create, teach, test and then deploy chatbots to your website. You can set up and then customize your chatbot, teaching it to respond to specific questions. The more you talk to it, the more it learns.
Advantages of сhatbots technology in the travel industry
- Travel chatbots deliver better customer service. It does not matter whether it is about providing solutions to solve important problems or just reporting urgent information.
- Users are always supported even during international travels. Chatbots: resolve their queries, give recommendations, initiate transactions, set up reminders, alerts or just have casual interactions with no time boundaries.
- Chatbot implementation is cost-effective. This means there is no need to involve third-party support centers in your business or hire a customer service team.
- Travel chatbots have access to all data that gives insights into the purchase history, problems, orders, etc. This leads to greater personalization.
- Travel bots deliver competitive strength for the increasingly growing travel sector. Online travel agencies should start working on chatbot solutions in order not to lose great opportunity to grab the early bird advantage.
- When developing a chatbot, you can also add coupons/offers, even a payment gateway in order to get more revenue opportunities. It brings in more possibilities to gain more revenue.
Currently, online agencies in the travel industry want to win loyal customers and increase revenue by delivering the most enhanced and personalized customer experience.
The changes in digital communication will force online travel agencies to think about a new way of serving their customers.
If a travel chatbot solution can fulfill customer needs and expectations effectively, then online travel agencies should focus on its implementation and adoption into their travel business as a cost-effective solution.
Chabots help online travel businesses ensure that their travelers’ needs are met, their expectations are exceeded each time they interact with their travel chatbot solution.
Bots can bring more personalization in communication and provide with more relevant and valuable information.
At Jasoren we have developed and implemented many automated chatbots solutions that help drive the growth of different businesses including travel.
If you want to develop a digital chatbot solution for your company, then do not hesitate to contact us and we will always be excited to deliver a product that will suit your business needs in the online travel industry.
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