Despite the fact chatbots may not be a brand new development, the spotlight has certainly turned on them for 2017. We credit this to Facebook's move last year to allow brands to construct chatbots for use via Messenger, offering automated customer support across a variety of industries.
Big name OTAs Expedia and Skyscanner also hopped on board the chatbot train with bots that assist consumers in their search for low cost flights and accommodation. However, chatbots are still in development and, as a result, there are still more than a few creases to iron out. One bugbear we've noticed is that most bots re-direct users away from the chat to the OTA website in order to finalise the booking - hardly a seamless journey and one which is likely to lose more than a few customers along the way.
Yet this is just the beginning for chatbots and with increasingly sophisticated technology, we are expecting bots with far more capabilities to soon emerge onto the market. In fact, tools marketed as virtual travel assistants, mobile travel chat and travel AI are destined to leave simple customer service chatbots trailing in the dust. These types of bot can create conversational experiences that tackle much more complex tasks - think text messaging with a virtual travel agent like Siri.
If you're looking to incorporate chatbot technology into your travel brand's offering, here are a few things to consider in order to keep your customers happy:
Consider the problem the chatbot needs to solve. Do your users need help to book travel? Search for travel? Find their way around a new location? Pay close attention to your target market and their level of technology skill as well as how they might want a bot to help and the types of questions they are likely to ask. As always, it comes back to understanding your audience and delivering what it is they desire.
Personalisation is key. The best bots are those which make use of a variety of customer preferences in order to provide useful and relevant information to the traveller. Ensuring your bot takes note of key preferences in order to tailor their offering will help keep your business bang on the personalisation trend. Keep it simple. We believe the chatbots that stand the best chance of success are those that keep things simple. Instead of trying to utilise a chatbot to do too many things at once, keep the processes targets and small. Allow customers to experience your chatbot's offering real value before upping your game.
How we can help
We specialise in travel technology and digital solutions for the travel industry and can even offer our own virtual travel assistant for brands keen to get ahead. Drawing on a wealth of experience and expert knowledge to perfect every project we work on, we're confident we can offer the ideal solutions for your business.