#TravelTrends: Chatbots changing the consumer travel experience

2018-01-31 21:00 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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Cape Town - Technology is revolutionising the travel industry and simplifying life for travellers. 

With the latest creation of a travel chatbot, travel and social media platforms have launched bots of their own. 

From booking flights to general travel advice and innovative customer service, chatbots are changing the consumer travel experience - and it seems like they are just getting started. 

ALSO SEE: 7 Ways smartphones have reinvented the way we travel

However, as the buzz around chatbots continues to grow, there's also controversy as to whether or not these bots are as smart as they appear. 

Sure, it sounds great to have an artificial intelligence and travel-savvy system that assists travellers with all aspects of travel via a conversational interface to answer questions, make recommendations and perform actions, but how many questions will the bot ask you before you give up and find it annoying?

Traveller24 is excited to see what the bots can come up with, and have rounded up 3 travel chatbots you need to check out.

Sam the travel chatbot

FCM Travel Solutions has announced the launch of Sam, a chatbot that blends artificial intelligence with the expertise of FCM consultants to deliver personalised, relevant information to business travellers’ mobile devices. 

According to the company, Sam is an interactive, travel-savvy and anticipatory “Smart Assistant for Mobile” that supports users with all aspects of travel via a conversational interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions. 

Sam assists business travellers pre, during, and post-trip with everything from itinerary management, air and hotel bookings, flight updates, local city and country information, local weather and restaurant suggestions, to security notifications, ground transportation, driving directions, immigration advice and vaccination status.

The more a traveller uses Sam, the more intelligent the chatbot becomes, so that information delivered to the user is even more personalised.

Sam will be available in the second half of 2018.

See Sam the travel chatbot video below:

Expedia bot for Facebook messenger

Expedia's simple little bot for Facebook Messenger is designed to do one thing and do it well, it helps travellers book hotels.

What’s more, the bot is extremely intuitive. As in easy-to-use. For the tech-savvy, this may seem like a big “duh”, but simplicity matters given that bots are still in their infancy and Expedia’s customer base spans all walks of life.

In a blog post on the company website, David Fleischman, vice president of the global product, described the bot’s use of natural language processing by saying “The bot operates on a structured conversation flow, it analyses information provided and prompts the user to input other relevant data points to complete a search.”

The bot has been available since 2016. 

See Expedia bot for Facebook messenger video below:

Cheapflights’ Facebook Messenger bot

Cheapflights' Cheapflights Chat is an interactive bot using Facebook’s chat SDK. 

Cheapflight Chat enables Facebook's massive global community to use its popular Messenger platform to search for flights and other travel-related information, before linking them to the Cheapflights website where they can continue to search or move off on to the next stage of the booking process.

SEE: Flight searches in Facebook messenger... with emojis!?

Launching in Beta, the core flight and, for the first time, integrated hotel search functionality is joined by a weather API, currency exchange and emoji search.

Cheapflights combined a whole suite of APIs with the new Facebook Messenger API and their clever AI for parsing natural language. 

This way Cheapflights Chat can understand the users’ intention even when they send a longer message like “Get me a cheap flight to Paris leaving next week returning 5th of August.” 

The bot has been available since 2016.

See Cheapflights Chat video below:

Also see how cognitive technology will impact the future of travel.

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