Travel Chatbots: 5 Superb Use Cases take Customer Experience to New Heights
Being one of the most dynamic customer-facing global businesses, travel and tourism has a ton of potential with the help of chatbots.
Customer service chatbots can assist you in becoming more profitable in a sector that includes everything from airlines to ferry services and cruise lines to railways to coach tours and hotels. Individuals are constantly on the move, itineraries are changing all the time, and infrastructure is both capital-intensive and dispersed.
The airline industry alone reported increased passenger volumes in 2017, reaching a record-breaking 4.1 billion passengers on global flights. For operators of airlines, cruise ships and ferries, railways, buses, tours, hotels and entertainment, the ability to provide superior customer experience relies not only on excellent customer service but also on the quality and availability of their infrastructure.
Technology has always played a pivotal role in travel and tourism operators, supporting the scheduling, booking, infrastructure maintenance, loyalty, and more. In recent years, however, tech-savvy passengers, armed with their mobile devices, have initiated a transformation of the travel market as they interact, transact and seek information on-the-go, by means of mobile apps, SMS notifications, or email clients on their devices.
Now, the travel chatbot has emerged to take this digital disruption to new levels, allowing airlines and other travel operators to engage with customers and employees in more automated and frictionless ways, via the power of chat. At ServisBOT we created the Army of Bots to get you started quickly and easily on your bot implementations.
Putting Travel Chatbots at the Heart of Passenger Loyalty
Customers browse and shop around for their travel, whether it’s for business or for pleasure. They hop across various device platforms, from their desktop to their mobile phones, but they also hop from one booking platform to another and from one airline to the next. As such, loyalty to a travel brand remains somewhat elusive, albeit highly desirable for the travel operator.
However, loyalty goes beyond a price deal or a single customer service engagement, encompassing the complete customer experience across all the touchpoints that they engage with, from booking to transportation, hospitality, entertainment, and other related services.
An Epsilon study on customer engagement and loyalty in the travel sector found that 87% of respondents said they were much/somewhat more likely to do business with travel websites or apps offering personalized experiences. This is where chatbots come in, helping to enhance personal experiences by giving the customer exactly what they want when they want it, and making the engagement as frictionless and convenient as possible.
The power of chatbots, through either voice- (Siri, Echo, Cortana, Google Home etc.) or message-based interfaces (SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp etc.), is increasingly shaping how travel companies engage with consumers. Technology advancements now enable travel operators to have a true voice, to build their identity through chat, and to enhance their brand identity through the underlying natural language processing (NLP) and AI capabilities.
If you are wondering if there is a difference between Conversational AI and bots, check out our Chatbot vs Conversational AI post.
Five Compelling Use Cases for Travel Chatbots
Consider all the touchpoints for consumers as they engage with travel operators and there you can uncover the opportunities for travel chatbots. But it’s important first to think about how conversations are more fluid and less structured than typical forms-based experiences that take a consumer through a defined set of screens or steps in order to complete their transaction.
So rather, than think in terms of chatbots being a replacement for human interaction, a web form, or live chat, think in terms of how a conversation can move a customer seamlessly through a journey or set of tasks, and even inject other processes into the conversation. Check out some great chatbot use cases common to the travel and tourism industry where chatbots can improve the experience as well as drive greater engagement and efficiency.
- Completing Reservations: There are several steps in the search and booking process that are difficult for customers to complete, necessitating engagement with a customer service center or live chat on a travel website portal. Convenient and smooth booking processes enhance completed bookings, boost revenue from completed bookings, and lower customer attrition rates. A chatbot for travel can lead a consumer through a conversational flow that lessens the friction commonly encountered while making travel arrangements. In a single conversation, it may respond to client inquiries about their vacation plans, let them know how many reward points they have remaining, upsell them on further related add-ons or services, handle payment, and remind them to complete the reservation.
- Managing Bookings: A booking bot can interact with a customer via messaging, SMS, email, or the web and provide updates on their current reservation, make changes to the booking, send proactive notifications, provide complete information regarding their schedule, and handle associated payments and refunds. For instance, a sophisticated travel bot can rebook a customer’s trip while also informing them of a flight delay brought on by bad weather or other circumstances. This illustrates how a chatbot may perform many activities in a chat more seamlessly than a customer receiving an SMS to tell their flight is delayed and then having to call customer service to rebook their travel. The bot, which is accessible around-the-clock, is constantly prepared to respond to questions, manage various reservation tasks, and give information before switching to a person if necessary.
- Managing Upgrades: For the majority of tourists, upgrading from economy to business or first class on a plane or from a regular room to a suite at a hotel is quite useful. Although regular travelers with miles or points are typically the only ones who receive upgrades, the cost to upgrade a guest is quite low when compared to the retail value. For these clients, a crucial aspect of the travel experience is keeping track of their reward points, loyalty status, and ability to use points for upgrades. It’s also one where tour operators may have a big influence on customer loyalty. However, deploying chatbots can facilitate the management and redemption of membership points while also proactively upgrading devoted customers during periods of low occupancy. This has the added advantage of reducing calls and wait times at the customer support center.
- Baggage Tracking & Claims: Baggage handling is a crucial responsibility for airline and airport operators. Luggage can still be delayed, damaged, or misplaced even though there is a lot of technology to help track and handle it between locations and deliver it securely to the traveler when they reach at their ultimate destination. The majority of tourists have encountered the frustration and annoyance of this circumstance, leading them to call the customer support department to monitor and deliver their bags. Or, even worse, when bags completely disappear, the customer must submit a claim for compensation, a procedure that can be riddled with delays, paperwork, and frustration. Consider a bot that can inform passengers of their luggage’s position, provide an approximate arrival time and date, and even handle claims for missing or damaged items. Here’s an example from the car insurance sector to illustrate how much more seamless a Claims Bot can make the procedure.
- Employee Scheduling: A customer service bot platform may be just as effective in employee-facing operations as it is for the typical customer-facing use cases. Scheduling and managing shifts are important for both enhanced customer service and operational effectiveness in a field that significantly relies on employees. Better service may be delivered at a lower cost when the relevant personnel are present at the appropriate times and locations. Similar to this, scheduling and providing the right work orders and tools to the maintenance and operations workforce—who are in charge of ensuring the availability, uptime, and condition of critical infrastructure—is essential to achieving operational excellence. So how might a travel chatbot be useful? Many employees in the travel sector are on the move and work different shifts throughout the day. Using chat, these employees can be updated on schedule or location changes at short notice and be redirected if needed.
In today’s travel business, the pace of technological change and an increasingly tech-savvy and demanding consumer are giving travel and tourism operators a run for their money. More than ever, airlines, rail operators, hotel chains, tour operators and others in the industry can own the whole conversational experience and innovate in new ways to transform how they engage with their customers and keep them coming back.
To read more about how bots can be a simple, yet powerful, way to transform customer engagement. Download our eBook: 10 Use Cases for an Army of Bots in Customer Engagement.
Visit us at ServisBOT to learn more about how we can help you deploy travel bots quickly and easily