Recent years have seen a major increase in the popularity of messaging apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat. In fact, the number of people using these messaging apps has already surpassed the number of people using networking apps like Facebook and Twitter. One cannot deny that networking apps are also being used extensively but it has been observed that younger generations are making more use of the messaging apps. The use of these apps has increased extensively because what the users are able to do within the app holds significant value. With the increase in the number of users of the messaging apps, there has been an emergence of web-powered robots called chatbots. These bots automate many functions allowing them to be delivered at scale. Bots are powered by Artificial Intelligence to ensure that the answers given by them to the users are correct.
The leisure travel industry all around the world has also witnessed the increasing usage of bots to provide customer service. By providing customer services on the various messaging apps, the industry is taking leisure travel to the next level. With the advancements in the field of technology, artificial intelligence is making digital tools human-friendly. A few travel companies have also launched travel chatbots for Skype. With the help of this chatbot, the traveler is able to hold a call with an agent, within the platform. This gives the access to the traveler to search for and make hotel bookings, manage certain elements of travel booking such as hotel confirmation/cancellation or flight confirmation/cancellation.
Although the travel industry is yet to fully embrace chatbots, but it is expected that once chatbots become a part of each and every travel organization’s customer service, they will entirely revolutionize this industry. Consider this – When you travel for business, what do you expect? The answer to this is – a time-saving, hassle-free, smooth experience, isn’t it? Well, a chatbot coupled with AI and data can overcome this challenge easily. A unique feature of chatbot is that it can understand and assist the traveler throughout the journey. But besides this, a major advantage of the chatbot is that it is backed by data, which makes it a very powerful tool to provide the travelers with an extremely rich experience.
Many travel companies worldwide are now also using the power of voice in the form of AI assistants to raise the game to the next level. Voice allows you to check the travel itineraries and even make payments. It is expected that in the next five years voice will become a major part of the travel industry and will bring about many changes.
Future of bots in business travel
Although leisure travel is enjoying the emergence of bots, it will take some time for business travel segment to embrace it. Travel companies all over the world are now focussing on putting the experience and learning of chatbots in leisure travel to business travel. The main issue that one needs to overcome when it comes to the introduction of chatbots in business travel is the privacy. For instance, in managed travel, the account you have on the booking tool is usually not your own. So the question is that to what extent will a company accept the linking of a corporate account to a public company? Since it is a matter of data privacy, hence some corporates will be willing to but some won’t. But even if the privacy issues are resolved a few technical challenges also need to be fixed. The main technical issue that needs to be dealt with is the choice of interface.
Interfaces such as Amazon Echo and Facebook messenger are developing at a rapid scale. This means that in the future business travel booking will take place on these platforms. So now the big question is that as a travel manager will you be ready to allow access to such services through their corporate firewalls? Most travel managers will give the same answer to this question, which is – In the current scenario, probably not! But as these services grow and develop, they will easily penetrate into the business travel segment. Moreover, the leap will not seem quite so large when in the future your AI bot will help you tweak travel policy or access travel program details by simply asking your home-based Echo a question.
Although chatbots may take some time to become a significant part of business travel, automation technology powered by Artificial Intelligence has already become a major part of this segment. Room on call is India’s very first start-up, which is catering to the needs of many Fortunes 500 companies at present with a version trav3.0 is set for a launch shortly.Room on call’s tool helps the corporates manage their travel programs in a seamless manner. As a result of this, the corporates are able to save the huge amount of time and money by removing their travel desks, Admin teams and clear visibility on expense with a view to plug flaws in business travel. Besides this, the tool is extremely simple and enhances the experience of the travelers, while at the same time helping them with policy compliance. The product introduced by this start-up is unique and considered to be a Hybrid model of peers such as Concur, China Lodging, and FCM.
Though chatbots may take some time to enter business travel, automation technology has already become the driving wheel of the business travel segment. Some of the companies like Egencia, DNATA, GBTA etc are struggling hard to get involved into real-time inventory management and supply to multinational companies particularly in Hotel segment and usually dependent on third-party integrations further adding to cost of traveler. Wherein chatbots are mostly been used as post-sales value-add by most of the companies.