Booking travel is a hassle, and I can’t remember a trip abroad with the family where I spent hours booking flights and accommodation. There are tons of options for flights (e.g., different dates, airlines), hundreds of accommodations, and many other things to choose from (which cities/beaches to visit nearby, etc.).
The abundance of choices makes decisions complex, and an intelligent bot can help us manage this complexity. This is why the travel industry is one of the top 5 industries for chatbot applications, according to surveys.
One survey showed that 87% of users would interact with a travel chatbot if it could save them time and money. Chatbots act as personal travel assistants, helping customers find flights and hotels, offering budget options for travel, and presenting packages and campaigns according to consumers’ travel behavior.
How Chatbots Can Benefit The Travel Industry
According to a research, it is these characteristics that make chatbots a good candidate for the travel industry:
Friendly chatbots provide a better customer experience and create better opportunities for businesses to generate leads through chatbots. For example, a chatbot used by GRT Hotels & Resorts exchanged over 175,000 messages within 2.5 months of its launch. This resulted in
- 84% of those who interacted with the bot shared their contact details
- 40% of them had a booking intention
- Chatbots provide an instant response 24/7 through multiple communication channels and can route calls to a live agent if needed. Real-time answers are an essential advantage because ±50% of customers expect companies to be available 24/7.
- Real-time answers are not valuable if they don’t answer your question. Understanding and recognizing user intent is key to providing the correct answer. In addition, chatbots that understand and use human humor are rated as more personable, collaborative, and competent, and provide better solutions and services than those that don’t.
The Reliability of a chatbot is directly related to its ability to give the correct answer within a conversation.
- Reliability depends heavily on the chatbot’s ability to understand natural language and the data it is trained on.
- An up-to-date training dataset on travel prices, destinations, packages, and comparisons ensures the Reliability of a travel chatbot.
These features are positively related to user satisfaction after use and continuity of use of the services offered.
Top Chatbot Use Cases In The Travel
Chatbots can offer 24/7 service in multiple languages and respond to multiple customers simultaneously, making them an excellent candidate for the following tasks:
Search For Booking Opportunities
In different communication channels (e.g., WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook Messenger), users can enter queries about their destination and travel dates and give the chatbot criteria to search for options, which it provides to the user during the conversation.
Chatbots can also ask users questions to narrow down choices, such as “What is your budget?”, “How many people will be traveling?” or “Are your dates flexible?”.
Before making a final decision on travel plans, users may have questions about travel insurance, travel requirements, prohibitions, estimated road charges, etc.
Chatbots can answer FAQs and handle these queries without the need for a live agent.
Timely and accurate responses are critical during the COVID 19 outbreak, as travel policies between countries can change daily.
When users decide on an itinerary such as a flight or hotel, the chatbot can request user information, ID or passport details, and the number of children accompanying the user. The chatbot also provides a channel for credit card payments, completes the reservation, and sends travel plans via email or message.
AI-enabled chatbots can understand user behavior and create cross-selling opportunities by offering flight and hotel packages, car rental options, and discounts on tourist tours and activities.
They can also recommend and offer vouchers for restaurants or cafés with which the travel agency has contracts.
This is beneficial not only for the companies but also for the users. For example, not all visitors know the hidden gems (and sometimes even essential sights) in the places they visit. Offering a tour of Stromboli to visitors to Sicily might mean they don’t miss a famous sight near the islands.
Manage To Book
Users can chat with a chatbot to handle their bookings:
- Arranging for a wheelchair
- Changing check-in dates
- Choosing flight seats
- Online check-ins
Chatbots can facilitate booking cancellations without having to pass them to live agents. The chatbot asks for the customer’s details and reservation codes or PNR(Passenger Name Record). Then it can cancel the user’s reservations, recommend replacements for canceled flights or hotels, provide information on refund and return policies, and submit refund requests.
Manage Luggage Inquiries
Chatbots usually have access to live data from airports or train stations, so users can contact chatbots to find out where baggage claim is and which platform their luggage is on. And in case of lost luggage, chatbots can create a luggage claim based on the user’s information and ticket PNR.
Collect Customer Reviews
Compared to surveys, conversations are a friendly way to collect customer reviews seamlessly. After completing a booking or service, the chatbot can ask users some questions about their experience, such as “How delighted are you with the services of this travel agency?” or “Would you suggest this agency to a friend?”, or ask them to write a comment on how can improve the services.
Future Of Travel Chatbots
Statistics suggest that users are becoming more familiar with chatbots, which will lead to an increase in popularity in various industries. For example:
- >30% of consumers are excited about chatbots
- 35% of consumers want more businesses to use chatbots.
- 80% of consumers who have worked with a chatbot report a positive customer experience.
In addition, global brands have used chatbots to process bookings, recommend itineraries and provide offers and campaigns to current and potential users.
This will encourage medium and small travel agencies to consider chatbots as a way to increase customer satisfaction.
On the other hand, millions of dollars are being spent on funding companies that offer travel chatbots and virtual assistant platforms.
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