How Travel Chatbots are Disrupting Tourism & Transportation

January 08, 2019

Conversational Messaging, Customer Service, Marketing

Travel chatbots are changing the tourism and transportation industries the same way that Kayak, Travelocity, and Expedia changed the landscape of bookings 15 years ago. They’re becoming an essential tool for travel companies to stay competitive.

Tourism chatbots address two major challenges that travel companies face today: rising operational costs and growing customer service expectations.

As the travel and tourism sectors continue to grow, so do operating costs. Fuel prices are rising, real estate is appreciating, and labor gaps are driving up wages. Travel chatbots help companies find relief by creating more efficient customer service teams.

The scalability of chatbots also helps companies meet rising customer expectations. In our current digital world, customers expect fast, reliable service. They also prefer to communicate online. While it may sound counter-intuitive at first, chatbots actually help increase the quality of service.

So, a solution that cuts costs without sacrificing quality? Let’s look at how else travel chatbots will affect the tourism and transportation industries.

The opportunity for tourism chatbots

The possibilities for tourism chatbots are immense. Once limited to simple tasks, tourism chatbots can now meet growing customer service expectations. They’re helping people research, select and even buy tickets. Beyond that, tourism chatbots are making travel planning more personal. They’re saving customer details and preferences for better future conversations. For example, tourism chatbots can welcome back a customer by name and make trip recommendations. This personalization is key.

A study conducted by Salesforce found that purchase recommendations are directly linked to longer shopping visits and increased sales. Using a chatbot to personalize booking experiences results in increased customer loyalty and revenue.

Most of your customers already use apps to research, plan and buy travel-related expenses. The opportunity for chatbots lies in simplifying those experiences. By integrating with existing apps and platforms, they become a singular solution. They will become a travel agent, local guide, and financial advisor – all in one.

This personalization and convenience is not scalable in most traditional customer service models. Customer service agents, particularly in the travel industry, are not usually readily available. Frustrating hold times are an issue for travelers with questions or trip changes. Some budget airlines even offer lower airfares by offering drastically lower customer service quality.

Many travelers have come to understand a tradeoff between budget airfare and customer service. With that said, there is a clear opportunity for tourism chatbots to make customer care affordable.  

Travel chatbots in public transportation

Public transport apps have also come a long way in recent years. New apps use more data to guide us, providing real-time updates on bus and train arrival times. We rely on technology help us avoid common challenges like suspensions and breakdowns.

When issues occur, commuters take to Facebook and Twitter for customer support. Public transportation companies can become inundated with messages on social media. Breakdowns, delays and other unexpected roadblocks lead to complaints and often the company will address the issue through a private direct message.

This type of interaction on social or messaging platforms like Messenger is common for many companies. This engagement that already exists on social platforms makes it a natural fit for chatbots. Combining real-time data, chatbot technology, and social media, companies are revolutionizing transportation by engaging customers on conversational interfaces.

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

Moovit launches the first ever public transportation chatbot

Moovit launched its 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

Most of us are familiar with flight comparison sites. 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

Expedia was among the first to create their own travel chatbot on Facebook Messenger. Expedia’s goal is to make it easier for people to search for hotel options. They narrow down hotel search results, eliminating steps in a time-consuming search by instead asking what you’re looking for in a more direct and conversational way.

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. This represents an opportunity for the Expedia chatbot to simplify many more processes.

Cheapflights’ chatbot is here to make friends

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 is a simple but very important detail: the way it relates to people. It speaks in an informal tone, communicating in a friendly and sincere manner. 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 bots?

Travel companies will have to adapt as more intuitive experiences become commonplace. Already, chatbots are transitioning from a unique feature to an industry standard.

The cost savings allow travel companies to become more competitive. And, the seamless customer care they offer is a growing factor in brand loyalty and choice.

Ready to build your own conversational chatbot? If you’re a developer, start using our platform now or alternatively, contact us for more information.