Chatbots in the travel industry: Are they helpful?

7 Tips for Creating a Travel Bot That Travelers Will Actually Want to Use

There’s no denying that there’s a lot of hype around chatbots right now. Even though the rise of the chatbots is apparently in full swing, chatbots are not really new.

Surely, you’ve been on a website and attempted to converse with the automated customer service agent who pops up. Here I am talking to Julie, Amtrak’s virtual assistant/chatbot:


While chatbots aren’t necessarily new, they seemed to explode in popularity earlier this year when Facebook began allowing businesses and developers to build chatbots for Facebook Messenger that can provide customer support and other interactive experiences for users in a variety of industries.

Chatbots in the travel industry: Are they helpful?

One industry in which chatbot development is booming is the travel industry. Big Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), such as Expedia and Skyscanner, have developed travel bots that help users search for flights and hotels. The bots can answer simple customer service questions using conversational language. These bots, in many ways, simply provide users a different, more interactive experience—for performing the same task the users would be performing on an OTA’s site. Sure, there are a few benefits: If you want a more friendly experience or to avoid having to switch between 30 different travel apps, these bots might be appealing to you. But they have a long way to go before they are truly useful.

Many users report that these bots have difficulty understanding simple requests. Most of the bots require you to leave the bot’s chat window and visit the OTA website to actually book, which many users find annoying. Some also argue that bots are reactive, rather than proactive. This doesn’t separate bots from OTA websites, but human travel agents can anticipate concerns in a way bots can’t; so, for complex travel such as corporate bookings, some argue that we still need travel agents or travel management companies. Ultimately, while bots are still in their infancy, they don’t solve many problems right now.


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