How is Conversational AI Upscaling The Travel Industry?
The global pandemic has emphasized the importance of technology in every sector. Since the travel industry was the most impacted one with an estimated loss of $ 2.4 trillion in 2020 it also stands a chance to make a comeback with the help of Artificial Intelligence and Automation.
Conversational AI is the future of highly efficient traveling. It provides a revolutionary business processing platform for tech-savvy millennials to make travel plans on the go. In fact, researchers show that millennials have an estimated $200 billion in purchasing power, and 55% of them are more inclined to businesses using chatbots.
Wondering why? AI-powered chatbots act as personal travel agents for customers – be it millennials, Gen Z, or any generation. It helps them to browse flights, book hotels, provide budget-friendly options and introduce packages according to consumers’ needs and preferences.
In this post, discover some important stats about the current state of conversational AI in the travel industry and how CAI is making it better.
AI-powered chatbots in the Travel industry: Statistics for 2022
- 33% of consumers would use a chatbot to make a reservation at a hotel or restaurant. (Drift)
- 87 % of users would interact with a travel chatbot if it could save them both time and money. (Humley)
- 37% of users would prefer to deal with an intelligent chatbot when arranging travel plans or comparing booking options. (Humley)
- Two-thirds of those surveyed would find a chatbot useful (40%) or very useful (26%) in managing all of their business and work travel arrangements. (Humley)
You see, consumers find travel chatbots as a viable option. So what’s making chatbots such a great candidate in the travel industry?
Here are the three main factors: Empathy, Responsiveness, and Reliability.
- Empathy: Chatbots offer a friendly customer experience, creating better opportunities to convert leads into customers. This new generation of chatbots not only communicates with customers but also understands their emotions and acknowledges the conversation. This advent of empathetic AI is revolutionizing customer experience and the use of bots for customer communications.
“You can’t have ‘human-like’ intelligence (AGI) without personality or emotions. People don’t change behavior on information, they change it on emotion, emotional intelligence, and empathy” – Steve Ardire, AI startup Advisor ‘Force Multiplier’ & “Merchant of Light”
- Responsiveness: Chatbots were designed to be responsive and provide instant answers across different communication channels. They are 24/7 available and provide the agility that digital customers expect. Chatbots also have the ability to hand over conversation to a live agent if needed.
An article by Matthew Barby, director of acquisition marketing at HubSpot and co-founder of Traffic Think Tank, claimed that on average, response rates for chatbot messages can be as high as 35-40%. In fact, the same article found that companies with engaged audiences that used chatbots could even have response rates as high as 90%.
- Reliability: Real-time availability is of no use if chatbots are not answering with the right data. A chatbot is only called reliable if it provides the correct response within a conversation. A chatbot’s reliability heavily depends upon its ability to understand Natural Language and the data on which it is trained.
How do AI-powered Chatbots help Travel Industry?
There’s a lot that AI-powered chatbots can do to make life easier. Here are a few examples.
- Browse and Book
A good chatbot can help users reduce long hours of indecisive search. It offers a better and more personalized customer experience often similar to a human travel agent. Many reservation services like Booking.com and Skyscanner offer travelers to seek flight and hotel recommendations.
Users can simply type in requests using different communication channels, e.g. WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook messenger, etc, about their destination and travel dates, and browse through various options throughout the conversation.
Related Content: The Importance of AI in an Omni-Channel Customer Experience
Chatbots can also assist by asking questions about budget plans or members traveling to narrow down the options for users and fetch the best deal possible. Moreover, chatbots can also offer additional functionalities such as ‘Route Tips’ or showing the ‘Busiest or Best days to Travel’.
Expedia, an American online travel shopping company, offers a Facebook messenger chatbot that enables users to browse hotels around the world and check availabilities during specific periods.
- Manage Inquiries and Queries
Planning travel is always a tedious task, especially when you don’t know where to take all your questions and whom to ask. According to research by Expedia Media Solutions, people visit 38 websites, on average, while planning their trips. Users may have questions about travel insurance, travel requirements, restrictions, bans, etc.
A travel chatbot is a simple and user friendly solution to the problem of queries and inquiries. It can provide contextual answers to the queries without needing a live agent to answer these questions. Not just when planning the trip, chatbots can also be programmed to assist throughout the travel, enabling a uniform experience for your customers.
Travelers can also contact chatbots to inquire about luggage platforms and luggage claim areas as they access live data from airports and stations. In case of lost baggage, chatbots can also create a luggage claim from the user’s information and ticket PNR.
- Cross-Selling Opportunities
AI-enabled chatbots consider user behavior and generate cross-selling opportunities. It offers flight + hotel packages, car rental options, discounts on tours and touristic activities, also coupons for restaurants and cafes that have deals with the travel agency.
- Finalize or Cancel Reservations
Customers can chat with chatbots to confirm bookings and complete payments. It can inquire about ID or passport data to finalize reservations and send itineraries via email or message. It can also be used to arrange wheelchairs, change check-in dates, choose flight seats or manage online check-ins.
That’s not all! Chatbots can even cancel the reservation without the need for live agents. All they need is customer details like reservation codes or PNR. They can further assist with return policies and create claims for refunds.
- Customer feedback.
Another way chatbots help to improve customer satisfaction is by taking customer reviews. Conversations are the friendliest way to seamlessly collect customer feedback through polls and surveys. They can provide valuable insights on delivering better experiences directly from the source. Though you can ask users to answer survey questions via email and social media but chatbots are more likely to get real-time feedback.
Benefits of integration ‘Conversational AI’ in the Travel Sector
- Improves customer satisfaction
Integrating AI-enabled chatbots help travel companies to provide a better user experience and reduce delay in service. The scope of human error is also reduced along with the prompt resolution of grievances and processing requests without manual intervention.
- Provides Growth Potential
Early benefits from the adoption of Conversational AI mean the global AI-derived business value is expected to grow by an average of 30% annually. As traveling is picking up post-covid, this is the perfect time for travel companies to increase their dependence on AI.
Adapting to such change is the perfect way to cater to the needs and demands of the new-age digitally adept traveler and make travel more convenient. This smart way of traveling will not stand you a greater chance to win prospects over but will set your trajectory for quick recovery.
Source: Adapted from Gartner, 2018
- Enhances Brand Image
Integrating Conversational AI can revamp your entire brand image. Adding a futuristic technology appeals more to millennials who travel more than any other generation. It provides a unique opportunity to transform your operations and make them more customer-friendly to stay ahead of the competition.
What iLink have to provide?
If you have stayed this far, you know chatbots are important for your company. However, creating a truly beneficial chatbot isn’t as easy as it seems. You definitely want a chatbot that provides value to both your business and your customers.
At iLink, we understand this!
Our AI-powered full-stack Conversational AI platform enables brands to comprehensively solve business problems end-to-end, and at scale. We have worked with businesses across verticals to develop valuable and scalable chatbots that work as personal assistants and provide a seamless experience to the customers.
If you are looking for a similar solution, connect directly with the experts who have designed and created them.
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