The Chatbot race is on!

In 2016 chatbots were tipped to be next big thing in tech, numerous pundits even hailed chatbots as the ubiquitous component around which future products would be built. The reasons – messaging is huge and getting bigger: chat has surpassed social networks in monthly active users. Secondly, apps are hard to build, bots can easily replace the complexity. Thirdly, chatbots appeal to the modern worker who is looking for real time digital connections. As a result chatbots are also entering the workplace.

In subsequent years, chatbots were relegated to a vanity feature. There were many reasons why they didn’t live up to their billing – conversations are hard, as they are not linear, but we all had unrealistic expectations because of our daily experience of chat. Surprisingly, in travel industry, bots are not only relevant but booming. They are present in domains such as front-end customer care, or on messaging platform such as Facebook Messenger or Skype, for assisting a user in booking a trip. Chatbots offer quick, multilingual service and help reduce overheads, a key factor in running a steady travel business.

Expedia, unquestionably, is leading the race for travel bots. Last year Expedia launched a Facebook Messenger Bot for booking hotels, and a new Expedia skill for Amazon Alexa, where a users’ Expedia account is synched with Alexa and they can access their upcoming reservations. They also came out with a skype chatbot which helps support hotels bookings and answers travel related questions.

At Traveldoo we are proponents of hypothesis driven development. We will shortly be  testing a chatbot in our Expense mobile app. We intend to solve the most relevant user problem – finding easier and faster ways to manage expenses. The chatbot will help chaperone the user through the basics of expense creations with an experience that is natural and intuitive.

Our working assumption is that we will get higher conversion rates and most importantly add another layer of engagement. We see the chatbot as a compliment to the existing expense creation framework, rather than a replacement.

Maintaining the spirit of ‘test and learn’ the experiments around messaging will help us determine the appetite of our users for bots and this could be the precursor for developments in the field of voice-based or messaging applications.

Watch this space for more…

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