If the customer is always right, then travel brands need to reach out to consumers where they are increasingly spending their time and attention – social media and messaging apps. Deploying chatbots on these channels can yield real rewards according to EyeforTravel and Travelaer’s new Are Bots Worth the Bother? report, which is free to download now.
The top travel apps currently reach into the millions of users, with apps from Booking.com and TripAdvisor leading the way, however, the top social media and messaging apps pass the billion mark. Facebook Messenger currently claims more than 1.2 billion users. Not only this but usage of social media and messaging apps is estimated to have shot up by nearly 400% in 2016. Therefore, it is becoming a matter of necessity for travel brands to have a first-class social media strategy, of which chatbots should form a core element.
The growth is opening up a whole new channel where customers can make direct bookings with travel brands, strengthening the link between brand and consumer and lowering distribution costs. Already brands such as Icelandair and French national rail operator’s digital arm Voyages-sncf.com, both of which feature as case studies in the report, have made thousand of bookings using bots on Facebook Messenger.
However, the primary use for chatbots is for customer service requirements. As consumers conduct more travel research on mobile and have to manage complex itineraries through mobile, chatbots are well placed to help to consumers and drive loyalty through improved and much quicker interactions but travel brands are struggling to come to this realization, the report notes.
“Our research shows travel companies don’t take Facebook Messaging with customers seriously,” says Mike Slone, chief experience officer at Travelaer. “Most don’t respond to customers via Facebook Messenger within a week, much less have a chat bot. The small percentage of travel bots that are live don’t impact the customer journey in a meaningful way, are gimmicky and don’t fit into an overall digital strategy. Customer service is the most demanded feature, not commerce.”
Therefore, travel and tourism brands need to work harder to improve their chatbot services and their ability to respond to complex customer requirements. Doing so can help to alleviate the load on teams across a business and increase customer service levels.
Indeed, it is critical for brands to focus on making chatbots work with, rather than replacing, humans says the report. With such a new technology most are using the system to help with the most common questions, such as luggage queries for Icelandair and room service questions in the case of Edwardian Hotels, both of which feature in the report. Icelandair note that currently the chatbots deal with just 10% to 15% of queries typically but this is expected to grow.
For more on chatbots and to download the report click here and find out:
- How market conditions are creating an environment ripe for chatbots.
- How many chatbots are deployed with travel brands currently and what level of functionality they have.
- How they work, what tasks they can perform, and where their limits are.
- What the costs associated with a chatbot are and how it can help your brand save money.
- How chatbots can improve customer service.
- What effect they are currently having and will have on the travel industry.