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Travel Chatbots: Disrupting Tourism & Transportation

Mark Asquith

January 8, 2019

Travel chatbots are changing the tourism and transportation industries.

Remember how Kayak, Travelocity, and Expedia changed the landscape of bookings? Travel chatbots are the new game-changer. They're a necessary tool for travel companies to stay competitive.

How Travel Chatbots are Disrupting Tourism & Transportation

Tourism chatbots address two big challenges:

  1. Rising operational costs
  2. Growing customer service expectations

As travel and tourism continue to grow, so do operating costs.

  • Fuel prices are rising
  • Real estate is appreciating
  • Labor gaps are driving up wages.

Travel chatbots help by creating more efficient customer service teams.

Next, let's talk about the rise in customer expectations. In our current digital world, customers expect fast, reliable service. They also prefer to communicate online.

Travel chatbots help by automating parts of the conversation. This automation is a key part of helping customers quickly and effectively.

Yes, we know -- it may sound counter-intuitive at first. But, travel chatbots actually increase the quality of service. They answer the easy questions and handoff difficult ones to a human agent.

In short, travel chatbots cut costs while improving experiences.

The opportunity for travel chatbots

The possibilities are wide open for tourism chatbots. The technology is better than ever.

Now, tourism chatbots can now meet growing customer service expectations. They help people research, select and even buy tickets.

Beyond that, tourism chatbots make travel planning more personal. They save customer details and preferences for better conversations. For example, tourism chatbots can welcome back a customer by name. They can also and make trip recommendations. This personalization is key.

A study conducted by Salesforce found a direct link between purchase recommendations and and increased sales. Using a chatbot to personalise booking experiences results in increased customer loyalty and revenue.

The reality is, most of your customers already use apps to research, plan and buy. So, the opportunity for chatbots lies in making that experience easier.

By integrating with existing apps and platforms, you become the solution. You're the travel agent, local guide, and financial advisor -- all in one.

But, this level of service is not scalable without automation. Relevant and seamless experiences are just not possible without technology.

Currently, frustrating hold times are an issue. And, that's especially true for travelers with questions or trip changes. Budget airlines are the biggest offenders. They offer lower airfares by offering drastically lower customer service quality.

There is a clear opportunity here. Tourism chatbots can make great customer service affordable.

Travel chatbots in public transportation

Public transport apps have also come a long way in recent years. Now, new apps use more data to guide us. They provide real-time updates on bus and train arrival times.

We rely these apps to help us avoid common challenges like suspensions and breakdowns.

And when those issues do occur, we take to Facebook and Twitter for support. Then, transport providers get lots of complaints on social media. Often, the company will address the issue through a private direct message.

This is common for many companies. Commuters are already reaching out to transport companies on social. That's why social is a natural fit for chatbots.

Chatbots combine real-time data, chatbot technology, and social media. With them, companies are revolutionizing transportation and engaging customers.

Next, let's take a look at some chatbots leading the “digital movement.”


Moovit launches the first-ever public transportation chatbot

First, let's start with an industry pioneer. Moovit was the first to launch a public transportation chatbot on Facebook Messenger.

The Moovit chatbot is like having a friend guide you through your commute. There's no need to switch between apps - the chatbot will consult their maps to answer any questions.

Skyscanner takes flight comparison to new heights

Next, there's Skyscanner. Most of us are familiar with flight comparison sites.

However, Skyscanner's tourism chatbot takes flight comparison a step further. Like Moovit, Skyscanner also uses Facebook to chat with their customers.

Just tell the chatbot your place of departure and arrival and dates, and it will present the best results. People can then review the options and select the best flight. This conversational interface makes search and selection much easier for users.

Expedia's chatbot aims to make booking hotels easier

Then, there's Expedia. The industry giant.

Expedia was also among the first to create their own travel chatbot. Now, Expedia's goal is to make it easier for people to search for hotel options. Expedia narrows down hotel search results. It also eliminates steps in a time-consuming search.

While Expedia's chatbot focuses on hotel searches, it is likely that will soon change.

The Expedia website allows people to book flights, cars, hotels, cruises and more. Moreover, this represents an opportunity for the Expedia chatbot to help in other areas.

Cheapflights' chatbot is here to make friends

Lastly, there's Cheapflights. Cheapflights is another leader in the search for flights.

They've also developed a chatbot that researches, evaluates and books tickets.

What makes the Cheapflights chatbot different? A simple -- but very important -- detail. It's the way it relates to people.

It speaks in a more informal tone than some of the others. It suggests trips with favorable climates, landscapes, food, and more.

The Cheapflights bot is a virtual assistant that behaves like a friend. It suggests in all sincerity where you should go and why - all accompanied by jokes and emojis.

What's next for travel chatbots?

Next, travel companies will have to adapt. More customers will come to expect better experiences. The fact is, chatbots aren't a novelty anymore -- they're an industry standard.

Also, chatbots will continue to provide cost savings. And, the industry desperately needs this break.

These savings will lead to competitive advantages. What's more, customer service will be an even bigger factor in brand loyalty.  

Want to increase sales and reduce contact center costs? Become an early adopter and use a travel chatbot across all your messaging channels. Book a call with us for a guided demo and discover how Hubtype can work for you.

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