For those in the travel industry, an AI bot can be a highly beneficial investment, helping to improve customer response times and promote marketing messages. Yet, some business owners or department leaders are unsure about how to tell a good bot from a bad one. In this article, you will learn about the features that are most important.
- What is An AI Bot?
- AI Bots vs. Rule-Based Bots
- Which Travel Companies Can Benefit From An AI Bot?
- 1. Multi-Channel Offerings
- 2. Central Communications Dashboard
- 3. PMS/Booking Engine Integration
- 4. Business-Specific Customisation
- 5. Machine Learning
- 6. Automated FAQ Answering
- 7. Check In and Check Out Support
- 8. Support for Multiple Languages
- 9. Automated Review/Feedback Requests
- 10. Analytics and Reports
- 11. Concierge Functionality
- What Are the Advantages of an AI bot?
- More Innovating Technologies Within Travel
What is An AI Bot?
An AI chatbot, or chat bot, is a digital technology solution, which is primarily used for customer service, but also for the delivery of promotional or otherwise useful content. Through the use of artificial intelligence technology, a chatbot can convincingly replicate the kind of chat-based interactions a user may normally have with another human.
This means the chatbot is able to understand human communication, interpret it and provide pertinent responses. For instance, a hotel chatbot will be able to answer customer questions about the hotel and its services, while an airline chatbot might assist with the process of booking airline tickets, offering recommendations along the way.
In general, chatbot technology can be split into two main categories: AI bots and rule-based bots.
As the name suggests, rule-based chatbots operate based on clear internal rules and logic, and this will usually consist of “if/else” conditions. So, to offer an example, a bot might be set up to ask an initial “yes/no” question. It will then present one response to users who answer “yes” and another to users who answer “no”. These bots may use action buttons, or recognise specific text strings, but either way the rules are set out in advance.
By contrast, an AI bot uses artificial intelligence to actually mimic the kind of intelligent responses a human will be capable of. The bot may learn information along the way, will actually understand what the user is saying, and will provide appropriate responses based on the communications it receives.
Rule-based bots are more simplistic and tend to be cheaper to implement, but the interactions may seem less natural and they may struggle to handle customer communications that deviate from the basic pre-defined path. An AI bot will be much more advanced and will seem more natural, but will usually be more expensive to put in place.
An AI bot can be beneficial for a wide range of different businesses operating with the field of travel and tourism. The technology can be used to answer customer questions, assist users with booking processes, and encourage users to actually make purchasing decisions, all in the ideal moment.
Therefore, an AI bot can be useful for almost any travel company that provides online customer support and/or bookings. Bots can help to significantly improve customer service response times and can deliver a 24/7 service, meaning users will have the ability to ask questions and receive swift responses at any time of the day or night.
11 Features Travel Companies Should Consider When Selecting An AI Bot
When attempting to choose between the different bot solutions available, it is best to look out for the following features.
For most businesses in the travel industry, including hotels, OTAs, airlines and restaurants, an AI bot can be featured on the company website. However, the uses for bots extend beyond this and an important feature to look out for is multi-channel support, especially when it comes to messaging apps.
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are two popular examples, but Telegram and We Chat are popular too. This kind of multi-channel functionality will help to reach a wider audience, increasing the overall benefits of the chatbot.
2. Central Communications Dashboard
The ideal software solution for those looking to make the most of an AI bot will also include a central communications dashboard. This will then allow you to access all of your communications in a single place, making the various forms of customer contact easier to view, monitor and manage.
This should cover the main messenger platforms, but also email and messages on services like Booking.com or Airbnb.
Many users who interact with an AI bot are either intending to make a booking, or considering doing so. For this reason, it is important that your chosen bot offers integration with your booking engine and/or your PMS system. This can allow users to easily progress to the booking phase, and the bot can provide special offers to help seal the deal.
Crucially, this can help travel companies to increase direct bookings and save money on commissions paid to OTAs.
Ultimately, the success of an AI bot will depend on it delivering a comprehensive customer experience and this relies on a level of customisation. You need to know that your chatbot includes the facility to truly personalise questions and answers, so that they are specific to your business, no matter where it fits into the tourism industry.
It is vital that your chatbot does not only solve generalised questions and provide generic information, but that it can also cope with the most important questions to your customers and provide highly relevant information.
Following on from the previous point, it is also crucial that your AI chatbot can answer questions that it has not specifically been designed or set up for. The way this can be done is through machine learning, with the chatbot providing intelligent answers, based on the information available to it.
Machine learning also allows for chatbot self-improvement, meaning answers will get better over time.
Companies within the tourism industry are going to have some questions which are asked frequently. For instance, a restaurant may regularly be asked about its vegetarian or vegan menu and a hotel may regularly be asked about check in and check out times, or specific room features. Your AI chatbot should, therefore, offer automated FAQ support.
This will allow the bot to provide quick, automated answers, without the need to involve a human agent.
Many modern hotels aim to offer a keyless, cardless experience for customers, and other areas of the travel industry are following a similar model. With this in mind, check in and check out options are a useful feature for your AI chatbot, allowing arrivals, exits and payments to be performed via a mobile, without the need for contact.
This helps customers by avoiding queues and other delays, and helps businesses by reducing staff workloads.
One of the areas where an AI bot can not only replicate human customer service, but actually exceed it, is the area of language support. After all, it is not realistically possible for most companies to have staff catering for the number of languages a bot can. To capitalise on this, you need to select a bot with multilingual support.
The best bots will automatically detect the user’s language and seamlessly respond in the same language.
Travel and tourism companies thrive when delivering great experiences and achieving this relies on honest customer feedback. An AI chatbot can help by automating requests for reviews or survey responses, and doing so across multiple channels, including email, social media and instant messenger applications.
Automation can also ensure requests are sent out in a timely fashion, when they are most likely to receive a response.
Whatever the advertised features, you will want to know that your chatbot is actually delivering what it promised, which is why it is essential to find one that offers analytics and reports. In particular, you need access to performance measuring, so you can see how many interactions are resolved, how long they take, and so on.
Additionally, a good AI bot should provide breakdowns by market, by device and by other variables.
11. Concierge Functionality
Finally, top of the range chatbots will also offer concierge functionality, meaning that they serve as a kind of digital assistant, available on a 24/7 basis. This is primarily useful for hotels and other accommodation-based businesses, allowing guests to use the chat feature on a mobile app to request room cleaning or restaurant bookings.
Of course, this core functionality could potentially be used by other travel companies too.
AI bot technology is helping to completely transform the customer experience within the travel industry. However, the technology is still relatively new and some business owners remain unsure of precisely what the benefits of using it are, or why finding the right chatbot is a worthwhile endeavour.
In the article “AI Chatbot: What Are the Advantages for the Travel Industry?” you will find out more about some of the specific advantages that AI chatbots can offer those involved with travel and tourism.
While chatbots can benefit both travel companies and their customers, the benefits will only be fully realised if you opt for the right AI bot solution. The features listed in this article serve as a useful starting point, allowing you to sort through the various options and find one that ticks the most important boxes.
More Innovating Technologies Within Travel
With technology continuously evolving, it should come as little surprise that its applications within the travel industry evolve too. In the following articles we piled up some more innovating technologies in today’s travel and tourism industry.
- How Augmented Reality is Revolutionising the Travel Industry
- How Artificial Intelligence is Changing the Travel Industry
- How Blockchain Technology is Transforming the Travel Industry
- How Virtual Reality is Transforming the Travel Industry
- How the Internet of Things (IoT) can Benefit the Travel Industry
- How Can Voice Control Benefit the Travel Industry?
- 4 Ways Facial Recognition Can Be Used in the Travel Industry