Simplify travel and travel planning with AI-driven Smartbots
Travel is one of the many essentialities of life. The purpose of it is twofold, one It helps us rejuvenate; which is the most sought-after goal and the second, it helps us build bonds for the better future of a business.
In either case, individuals interact with online travel planners and the associated mobile apps to plan their travel.
However, the customer in most of the cases does not feel the “convenience” in planning their travel on the aforementioned channels. Expedia too, cites that travellers or users visit 38 sites on an average while planning a trip.
Allowing us to understand that customers, before planning their travel for whatever purpose, look thoroughly for deals that best suit them. And if they do not find the right fit, they abandon their carts and look for better alternatives.
Now, this situation also presents an opportunity for AI-driven Chatbots to interfere and transform the situation and yes, thrive.
Separating Chatbots from Chatbots
Before we understand how AI-driven chatbots transform the travel industry, I will need to throw some light on what they are, and how to identify the right chatbot solution for your business.
In brief, Chatbots are simple conversational interfaces designed specifically to mimic human interaction. The aim usually is to provide self service options to the people interacting, thereby deflecting calls to the contact centre and reducing call volume.
Now, in contrast, an AI-driven chatbot, deflects a call, gauges the customer’s intent and suggests a Next Best Option through an interaction. This feature allows a business employing the bot to understand what makes a customer tick, which then influences a change in business strategies for a company – A game of analytics, customer insights, and intent mapping.
Imagine if this is applied to travel industry. Customers will be able to know what’s best for them. They can have the best suggestions on where to travel based on their travel history, gain loyalty points which can be later traded for perks during their holidays.
Travel companies too will be able to understand customer sentiment allowing them to push the right fit travel plan for the customer. The result, increased leads, sales and lifetime of the customer (CLTV).
Travel Planning and AI-driven Chatbots, a combination!
After you’ve understood the difference between chatbots and AI-driven chatbots, I’d like to explain more on how AI-driven bots can be applied to travel; this time with a few use cases.
Use Case 1: Virtual Customer Care Manager.
To explain this use case, let us imagine a situation where people are worried about their 36-hour delayed Panam flight to Las Vegas and their stay at the Caesar’s palace. Usually, the customer at this juncture calls up the contact centres of either of these places and tries speaking to the agent.
And as far as familiar situations go, the customer is usually put on hold, owing to the magnitude of calls the Airliner usually receives.
However, to avoid such situations, an AI-driven chatbot can be used. What happens when the bot sits on the customers preferred channel, it responds proactively of any delays in the flight schedule. And then suggests the next flight available and initiates the procedure of cancellation of the delayed flight – not to forget that this happens with consent through an interaction between the customer and the bot.
Use Case 2: Reservations Agent.
Now, for a chatbot to behave as a reservation agent all you have to do is take a robust intelligent bot and integrate it to a CRS (computerized reservation system); which allows the bot to plan a customer’s travel much more efficiently through simple interactions.
For example, if your customer wants to visit the Louvre in Paris, France, he will only need to interact with the bot to schedule a flight for the same. And since the customer will be talking to an AI bot, it, will also suggest him the best places to stay within the planned budget.
Isn’t this considered as an experience!
Use Case 3: The “Guide”
AI bots can also help your customer find the best local places to visit. For instance, your customer is in the mood for some wine tasting and is apparently in Naples, Italy; of course, without knowing which the closest vineyard is or the best one.
Prompting them to start a chat with the bot, which then guides the customer to the location.
The Business Metrics and Chatbots
Since I have briefly touched upon the use cases and the bot differentiation, I would like to take a step ahead and speak about the core business benefits of using chatbots in travel planning.
Make Sales Happen
AI bots can assist greatly in boosting sales. This is possible through user trends that allows the travel agency in the backend to tailor holiday plans/create loyalty schemes for the customer.
Such a degree of customization surely increases sales with an additional consequence of customer retention.
Slash Customer Acquisition Costs
In the business of travel planning and the allied purchases, it is often difficult to acquire customers at a cheaper cost; owing to competitive pricing.
Which is where chatbots can be of great help through their NLP and AI.
Here’s what they can do. They can interact with the customer, suggest best offers and deals to him and make his planning hassle free. And since today’s customer is digitally adept, he will speak about his planning in the digital space, reducing costs of onboarding new customers in the long run*
Reduce Traveller Attrition
Since, an AI bot suggests next best offers and many more customized options that make travel interesting, the customer in result remains engaged. This delivery of services in a continued way will reduce traveller attrition and boost a travel business’s customer base.
24/7 support is actually a benefit, however it can be quantified as a metric since a bot keeps your business awake, whenever, wherever. The result is, lead capturing & self-service options even during off business hours.
Chatbots and AI adoption are not only changing how customers are connecting to retailers but also transforming the way the world is going to communicate in the immediate future. According to a study by Twilio, nine out of ten users would like to connect to brands via messages. Faced with major digital disruption and the growing need to adjust to the customer’s digital needs, travel companies have to provide excellent customer experience, and chatbots can be a big part of that.
Along with providing instant response throughout a traveler’s journey, bots are becoming even more personal than human operators – almost as one of the trusted friends in your contact list. And even considering that the technology in its current state is still new, its adopters are investing in a future where human/AI conversations are not just efficient but expected.
We’re excited to see it happen. How about you? Tell us what you think about the role of chatbots (and conversational interfaces in general) in the travel industry. And if you want to know how else to apply AI in Travel Tech, you can speak or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org