How AI chatbots are transforming the travel sector



Just as the covid pandemic started waning, another crisis hit the travel industry—massive staffing shortages that have grounded thousands of flights in the last few weeks. Undoubtedly, this disruption too will come to an end. Still, there is a worrying pattern of the travel industry’s disruptions causing countless passengers a great deal of anxiety and loss of capital.


Even when the industry returns to normal, there is the issue of airlines and travel agencies having to spend millions to rehire, train, and deploy customer support agents, which can often be a death blow to companies struggling to survive after incessant lockdowns.


One of the best ways airlines and travel agents are coping with these issues is through travel chatbots powered by AI. Here, we explore whether they are worth the hype.


AI chatbot applications that are disrupting the travel sector


  • Seamless and cost-effective customer support 24X7


To provide the best possible support for your customers, you don’t have to hire an entire fleet of customer support agents who must work through the night to satisfy globetrotting travellers.


All you need is a powerful AI-based chatbot that can identify even vague queries using Natural Language Processing to produce perfectly satisfactory, preprogrammed responses to even vague queries, such as “flights to Dublin” and “roundtrip to Paris’”, etc.


Besides, most support requests can be automated; the chatbot can be programmed to respond quickly to frequently asked questions.


To ensure that customers don’t miss the human touch, advanced chatbots can be deployed to answer after performing sentiment analysis.


For instance, if the customer is frustrated, the bot can respond with a discount and an apology or offer a refund/cancellation option for the flight ticket or travel package.


It is also worth mentioning that an AI chatbot can help you utilize the human support agents better; they can focus on challenging tickets while the bot ensures that trivial issues or commonly asked questions don’t clutter the helpdesk.


Owing to all these benefits, travel chatbots are a great cost-cutting measure.


  • Personalized upselling


Amazingly, some chatbots can read the customer’s moods and analyze buying data to make personalized buying recommendations to help travel agencies and airlines generate extra revenue.


For example, just as the customer is about to checkout, the bot can send a message asking if they would like to upgrade their seat at a discounted price. Often, the passenger consents. Similarly, airlines can upsell ancillaries, such as travel insurance, specially wrapped luggage to minimize covid risk, free cancellations, etc.


  • Resourceful reservation agent


Airlines and travel agents can delight their customers with travel chatbots that can provide them with the best deals while booking by comparing thousands of hotels, flights, car rental, and food options.


This level of customization for the customer based on their budget and interest is not something that a human can match. Interestingly, using a travel chatbot, customers can book flights, tour packages, and other services from the channel of choice, whether it is social media, your app, or the website.


Apart from providing quick and personalized recommendations, travel companies can impress their customers by having the chatbot provide useful insights, such as the best day to visit the place or the top five destinations to visit.


Also, the travel chatbot can provide functions, such as notifying customers when the price for a flight ticket has dropped, via an SMS.


More importantly, the AI chatbot can assist the customer throughout the journey. This feature is quite useful given how customers can get frustrated if their ticket or enquiry gets passed on to another support agent when one person’s shift has ended. However, with a bot, the customer can easily claim discounts for lost luggage, get the best deals on local hotels, etc.


  • Unparalleled disruption management


Imagine if a flight is cancelled, and all the passengers take to social media at the same time to complain about your airline and get a particularly damaging hashtag trending. Having a handful of support agents doing damage control will lead to slower responses, which would add fuel to the fire.


To take control of the situation, travel chatbots powered by AI are the perfect solution. They can instantly send out thousands of messages across channels, addressing every customer by name before resolving their issues.


Moreover, the bots are tireless; they can work through the night and up until the crisis is resolved. If the chatbots are taking on all the straightforward requests, you can focus your support team’s energy on delighting the passengers by personally handling complicated requests.


As a result, the chatbots are, in a time of crisis, lifesavers that can help you deal simultaneously with countless angry passengers and provide them with seamless cancellations, refunds, or other issue resolutions.


Conclusion


As you can see, AI-powered chatbots for the travel industry are incredibly versatile and help with various applications, including customer support, trip planning, lead generation, and even upselling. Notably, it can handle customer requests throughout the year without a break and ensure that no customer leaves your website, app, or social media page frustrated that they didn’t get the necessary resolution.


Consequently, AI chatbots have emerged as a surefire way for travel companies to optimize revenue and enhance the customer experience. To know more about how such a solution can be implemented for your travel company, reach us for a demo or trial.