Chatbot for Travel - The challenges and opportunities with chatbots for online travel agencies and hotel booking
Crafting holidays is serious business. And even more so now, when the typical traveler profile is that of a tech-savvy, ever-online millennial. Millennials navigate the world on the web, and most often through their smartphones. This combination creates some rather unique challenges for travel agencies, hotels, and tour operators. Keep reading to find out what they are, and how travel-related businesses are overcoming them by building chatbots for their websites.
Internet connectivity problems:
In remote parts of the world, internet connectivity issues are pretty much a given. Though travelers have generally become more mobile-oriented and always have the option of going online through their smartphones, it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a place where your network isn’t too strong. Slow internet means one thing – you’ll want the quickest and the most user-friendly website.
So let’s say Nick, 28, runs into connectivity issues in the middle of his backpacking holiday. He needs to find a hotel he can check into the next morning. What is he likelier to do – spend hours looking at price comparisons on a bunch of travel websites, or use the fastest website he finds after the first couple of attempts, and book a room through it? And what makes a travel website look fast and efficient, even on a slow internet connection? An online chatbot.
Travel chatbots don’t need great internet connectivity to work. In this example, Nick can interact with the online chatbot just like he can text his friends and family even from remote areas. So here’s how Nick’s hotel ‘search’ would go:
Chatbot: "Hi, how’re you doing? Can I help you with flights, hotels, or sightseeing options?"
Nick: "I want to find a cheap hotel in [City]."
Chatbot: "Could you select your travel dates on the calendar below?"
Nick selects the check in and check out dates.
Chatbot: "Here are the top 5 budget hotels in [City] for your chosen dates, listed in ascending order of price."
Nick has everything he needs in a matter of seconds. He can just go ahead and book a room, or ask the travel chatbot for information on the hotel’s services, star rating, location, and guest reviews. So travel agencies that create a chatbot for their websites, can bypass the problem of slow internet and keep turning visitors into paying customers.
Issues with searching for flights or hotels:
For quite some time now, travel websites and mobile apps have been getting a lot of flak for their search functionalities. Travelers have had several complaints during their searches, mostly on account of too many listings and filters, price changes at short notice, and a lack of clarity about hidden charges and add-ons. But travel chatbot development has started turning the tables. In the example above, Nick was able to get clear, to-the-point information about budget hotels in the city he was about to visit – without having to go through pages upon pages of listings on his own.
This is one of the biggest advantages of building chatbots for travel websites. Thanks to them, visitors can get key information about hotels, flights, and other services by asking questions in their own words, such as:"Does [Hotel 1] have a pool?""Does [Hotel 2] offer extended stay discounts?""When can I get the lowest air fare between [Date 1] and [Date 2]?""Which of these hotels has an airport shuttle service?"
This is much easier and more intuitive than figuring out which filters to apply to a manual search, and then doing the comparisons on your own.
Customer service quality matters:
When searching for hotels online, travelers may find all the information they need on the hotel’s website. But how do they figure out if a particular hotel is better suited to their needs than another one in the same price range? Typically, the quality of customer service tips the balance in a particular hotel’s favor. At present, chatbots for travel are becoming the new face of customer service for hotels around the world.
The best chatbots for travel agencies websites aren’t just the ones that can give out the most information. They’re the ones that offer quality service, or in other words, polite, accurate answers and information on a consistent basis. Chatbots are already able to work round the clock; the right approach to chatbot development can further enhance them with chat scripts that make good impressions on visitors.
Making the fine print clearer:
A common complaint that travelers have with hotel, flight and tour booking services is that the fine print on cancellations, refunds, and extras isn’t always clear. For instance, someone may find out that even after choosing a ‘refundable’ hotel room, they ended up paying a penalty during cancellation. Simply because there was a time period within which the booking had to be cancelled for them to get a full refund, and they just didn’t notice this clause while paying for the room. An incident like this can put anyone off, and nudge them to try a different service with clearer policies.
Travel agencies and hotel booking services can avoid losing customers in this manner by building chatbots for their websites, and including answers to questions like these in the chat script:"What is the cancellation policy for this hotel?""When should I cancel my booking to get a full refund?""If I check out sooner, can I get a partial refund?""My flight is cancelled. How do I get my money back?"
And so on. By addressing queries like the above in simple words, online chatbots can create a better booking experience for travelers.
Looking for more details about travel chatbot development? Check out our other blog posts, or get in touch with our team.