Apps Why chatbots are a perfect fit for the travel and hospitality industries By BMaaS Contributor Posted on November 23, 2017 4 min read We are reaching an age where chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) will be ubiquitous. The fast-selling Amazon Echo, personal assistants on our mobiles such as Siri and Google Assistant and the imminent arrival of driverless cars are setting a new paradigm in user interaction. Large-scale investment from firms like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure have made it cheap and easy for software application developers to include natural language understanding and interpretation into apps, and social channels are opening up chatbot capabilities on their messenger platforms like Facebook, Skype and, soon, WhatsApp. “The cost of chatbot development is less than 20% of that of mobile apps” These new open channels and AI mean there are already chatbots to order pizza, flowers, check the weather or order a taxi – but the opportunities for the travel industry are endless. Every step Chatbots can be with your customer from booking a flight, getting local restaurant recommendations or even acting as a digital concierge at the hotel – all without ever installing any dedicated app. Imagine opening Facebook Messenger on your mobile and asking a room service bot to send up a burger and then pay for it directly in the chat window. How about asking your digital concierge to set the air conditioning before you return to your room all using natural language. Both examples are possible now, and relatively easy to produce when compared with mobile applications. Travel planning companies such as Kayak and Hipmunk are already making headway with chatbots for searching flights and hotels and getting the best deals on travel, but so far there’s an untapped and golden opportunity for operators, destinations, and hotels to increase customer satisfaction and engagement with chatbots. Here are a few examples of how chatbots can be used for the industry outside of booking: A local information bot gives interesting events, market times and restaurant recommendations for the local area Virtual concierge offers all the services of the hotel concierge directly from your phone A virtual holiday rep checks your transfer times and flight information with the package holiday rep The real power of chatbots is their ease of access. According to development experiences at Eden Agency, the cost of chatbot development is less than 20% of that of mobile apps. Getting accurate and timely information to customers is done in natural language on messaging apps that the customer has. Gone are the pains and marketing costs of getting branded apps installed, and the deployment complexities are handled by the channel, not the developer.