post by : axelle.varone
People aren’t willing to download hundreds of apps anymore. Studies show that 70-80% of time spent on apps is constricted to a selected few. The most popular ones are instant messenger apps therefore it makes sense to meet the customer where he is already at. Using instant messengers as a way to provide support is only an interim solution. Often the same questions are asked and these can be provided automatically through a chat bot. The chat bot offers a simple method of gaining information without having to download a new app and going through the whole process of finding out how works.
Big tech-companies are currently working on artificial intelligence programs which are able to analyze the context of a question and then provide the right answer. In the meantime the messenger provider KIK is working directly on a simpler chat bot that works like an automatic FAQ webpage. Through typing “@Mention” and adding in the region one is looking to find information on it is possible to summon a chat bot into the conversation to access for example the weather forecast after the information is provided the bot will leave the conversation again.
By now KIK offers a series of different chat bots in collaboration with companies such as Vine or Funny-or-die but also with serious selling companies such as H&M, Sephora or Weather-Channel. It is highly likely that chat bots from companies like TUI or other travel agents are to come on the market sooner or later to give information on top sights, best season to visit, visa regulations and similar topics. This development is a logical effect of the ever growing presence on the internet that is necessary for travel companies to stay competitive.
It is believed that the evolution of chat bots in tourism might end in customers booking their whole holiday through a chat bot. As an example we have Skyscanner who launched a Facebook Messenger bot in May 2016 which helps search for flights. It is not yet possible to book through the app but the company hinted that this and many more functions would follow.
In Switzerland the tourism industry is not yet participating in the chat bot business but the adaption to this new trend will eventually become inevitable.
Reber, Nicole - 701_e (2016); Varone, Axelle - 701_e (2016)