Travel Conversations

We recently started a series about conversational interfaces in different verticals. After Insurance and Health, here comes our series about Travel. Travel chatbots and virtual assistants caught our attention early on in our journey in conversational interfaces.
It seems that travel chatbots are a great idea and promise in everyone’s mind, but not really here for us yet. Or not as we, the people like you and me, envision them.

UNITED

United sends customers an SMS right after booking, and another one 24h before the flight with a reminder to checkin.

Users can answer through SMS with basic keywords and receive more info, but there is no natural language understanding built in.

United has active customer support on Facebook Messenger, but it is not possible to move the SMS communications to this channel. That would be an advantage for travellers that move to local numbers while away from their home countries.
20180912 Bots4health at Ogilvy
Computer says “no”
We took a look at United’s website and went straight to their contact section, to see if they have any customer service chatbots. There were any, but we think a customer service chatbot would be a great addition to United’s team. We lend them Eva, from bots4health, for this concept:
united
Before and after of United’s “Contact us” page.
United is a few months of work from turning this messy go at conversations to the next level. Our bets were form 2018 to be the year in which large companies become conversational, but perhaps we need to moderate our enthusiasm and wait until 2019 or even the almost magic sounding 2020.

Skyscanner

Skyscanner has active chatbots in Facebook Messenger and Skype. Both can be used to find flights to specific locations and on specific dates or to find flight deals; but for the booking users are always redirected to the Skyscanner website.

We’d recommend Skyscanner to move the whole workflow to the chatbot channel and to invest in improving their knowledge of users to offer them hyper-personalised deals.

The Neon Project

Since 2017 we’ve been working on our own travel chatbot concept trying to apply some of the lessons we learn in the way. Seety is a chatbot that helps travellers discover the city through personalised itineraries and helps local business jump on the conversational trend with very low startup, promotion and maintenance costs.
We also recently started Travel Bots, a Facebook Community for people working in this space. See you there!

Do you work in travel? Do you want to become conversational?
Reach out to us at cristina@theneonproject.org