Shifa Martin

@shifamartin

How Top Travel Brands Hipmunk & Amtrak are Leveraging the Power of Chatbots

It makes sense for a brand to create a sound strategy before investing in a new method of speaking directly to their consumers. Splendid use of AI technology has impacted communication channels a lot and chatbot is the best example of the evolution of AI technology.

Today AI chatbots are more than a conduit designed not only for speaking to your customers but they are also able to perform natural language understanding and cognitive service functions with their ability of speech to text conversion, speaker recognition, language recognition, translation of words, text analytics, and a lot more than you expect.

Here’s the Success Story of Hipmunk’s Travel Bot

Hipmunk Travel Bot

Hipmunk a travel portal uses ‘Hello Hipmunk’ a conversational bot to determine their visitor’s location and then sends them the best travel deals. Hipmunk’s is the first-ever chatbot that uses friendly language for fulfilling the requirement of flight and hotel bookings for travelers and mimics in the same way as a human travel agent.

According to Hipmunk’s CEO, “Hello Hipmunk bot help them learned a lot about their travelers’ expectations and also paved the way to build the newest travel chatbot named as SAP Concur Travel bot built on Slack.”

Their new chatbot opens the way for business travelers to plan, discuss, and book flights with their colleagues. Hipmunk’s team also comes to know through their chatbot that their user runs about 20 searches when planning a trip.

What Hipmunk’s team have analyzed

The idea of creating the best chatbot, not a chatty one

Hello Hipmunk bot uses natural language processing (NLP) to converse with travelers and allow them to ask anything related to travel planning, booking updates, personal preferences, and more.

This is how Hipmunk’s team understand what actually the user can ask. And, they’ve also found that when searching for the travel plans, it’s not natural for people to share or provide all the information at once needed for travel booking. Most people chat in short lines, like:

User: “Flight to NY?”
Hipmunk’s Bot: “Where are you flying from?”
User: “San Francisco”
Hipmunk’s Bot: “What time you want to leave?”
User: “Sep 23 to 25 — evening”

Lesson learned?

The user expects chatbots to be accurate and to understand what they actually want not only what they’re saying to the bot. To improve this Hipmunk’s chatbot development team augmented the Hello Hipmunk chatbot with:

Visual interfaces, Buttons, Images, and feature such as “Share Location” that eliminate the need of replying an answer to “which airport are you flying from.”

All these additions gave travelers a more natural way to make bookings and to share their details on the bot without making errors.

This is why Hipmunk’s development team emphasizing more on adding:

Visual UI elements, Self-updating messages, and Menus in the Concur Travel bot to make it easy for business travelers to find and book a flight quickly.

Being accessible and available to group chats is another big change made by the Hipmunk development team and applied to Concur Travel bot. The team has learned big lessons through their own research, experiments and by closely watching the behavior of their users.

Also, by typing (“/concurtravel”) users can even call Concur Travel Beta team to share the flight and trip information regarding any conversation they have/had with their colleagues or business partners.

What benefits You can avail on Concur Travel Beta Bot?

The bot will allow you to find for flights at your company’s negotiated rates. You simply need to type the words such as “search” or “flights to NY” and the bot will display all the flights and allow you to filter flights according to departure time, return dates, destination, class, fare, and airline type.

You can book a flight or search up flights by talking with your colleagues in real time. Concur Travel bot allow you to share your trip plans, look up for flights, and make the co-booking all in real time.

SAP Concur Travel Bot

Once your flight selections are made, the bot will allow you to use your SAP Concur user profile to make payment for the seamless booking. The bot also allows you to access information on the upcoming flight booking, hotel reservations all through your chat on Concur Travel Beta.

If you also run a travel portal or flight booking portal, then I suggest you should also install Concur Travel bot on your website to get smarter and to do even more just a simple chat with your customers.

To download Concur Travel bot, simply check the Slack App Center and Slack App Directory. Or, you can hire chatbot developers to build AI-enabled bots for your travel portal.

Here’s How Amtrak’s “Ask Julie” Saved $1 Million

A Great Bot Always Anticipates Not Just Automates

Amtrak a famous and one of the biggest National Railroad Corporations in the United States. They have saved $1 Million on customer service by using ‘Ask Julie’ a virtual assistant that has wide functionality for online ticket booking and also vocalize an answer with the text.

Amtrak website receives an average of 3.75 lakh visitors per day, and the rail service provides transport to around 30 million passengers every year. Amtrak wanted a solution to provide its customers with the quick resolution of queries.

By implementing Julie on their website, Amtrak has increased their booking rate by 25% and saw a 50% rise in user engagement and customer service. Julie answers on an average of 5 million questions per year.

What Amtrak’s Julie can do for you?

Amtrak’s chatbot comes with the AI capabilities and provides your site visitors access to the option of online self-service. Julie also has an upsell feature that allows your customers to make bookings of train tickets and hotel rooms.

The chatbot also provides you the route map for the requested destination and transfers you to page where you can book rail tickets. Julie knows all about your queries and the bot will provide you with the most relevant information in vocalized form along with the written response.

What Amtrak’s team have analyzed and planning for?

Amtrak’s receive around 84,000 daily calls from the passengers with questions about train booking schedules, fares, train status, and even more.

Amtrak development team re-architected the company’s IVR applications, CTI (computer telephony integration) and web service.

Julie is the all-in-one solution that answers an average of 50,000 calls per day which is far better than one human agent handles per year.

Julie was launched in the year 2000 and today it handles about 20 million calls a year. In 2007, Amtrak upgraded Julie existing IVR system to the self-service environment by using the intervoice MTC 3.0 Voice/XML browser system.

Today Amtrak’s development team focusing on the optimization goals where a caller can easily access the information they need through Julie. The team is also focusing on automating functions and give Julie the intelligence needed to eliminate the steps involved in the booking process.

Meet Julie Your Virtual Assistant

Here’s a sample chat on Julie

A caller wants to look up train schedules from San Francisco City to Boston.

Julie: “Hi, I’m Julie Amtrak’s Automated Agent. To know if a particular train is running on time, say ‘train status.’ Or to get train schedule and ticket price information, say ‘schedules’. To make …”

Caller: “Schedules”

Julie: “Great, let’s look up schedules and fares of the train. And if you find something you want, we can make a reservation, too.

Julie: “What city are you departing from?”

Caller: “San Francisco”

Julie: “And what’s the arrival city?”

Caller: “Boston”

Julie: “I think you said Boston. Is that correct?”

Caller: “Yes”

Julie: “Got it. There are two railway stations in Boston. Which one is it? You can choose from Boston South Station or Back Bay Station.”

Caller: “Back Bay Station”

Julie: “If you know the date you’d like to depart, go ahead and say it now. For example, ‘Wednesday’ or May 29’. You can also say ‘I’m not sure yet’.”

Caller: “I’m not sure.”

Julie: “That’s fine. Let’s use May 28th for now, and we can change it later. Hold on, I’ll look up trains…”

So, it’s clear the self-service virtual assistant is working for Amtrak and the most interesting part of Julie is that you’ll never feel that you’re talking to a robot. It feels like a real person.

According to company stats, bookings made through Julie have generated 30% more revenue than the bookings made through other means.

The popularity of chatbots in the travel industry is in rapid growth mode. Many other travel portals and booking services allow travelers to seek flight and hotel recommendations via a bot, messenger or Skype. Booking.com, Skyscanner, and other brands are using travel chatbots to offer better and more personalized customer service experience.

Bots offer even more personal user experience than human operators and adopters are investing in the future chatbots where AI-enabled conversations are not just going to be a reality but expected too.

So, tell us what you think about the role of chatbots in the travel industry. And if you want to share your views on the topic or want to know how else to apply AI in your travel chatbot or wish to learn more on chatbot development kindly post your views in the comment section so that I can reply back to your queries.

https://upscri.be/hackernoon/

More by Shifa Martin

Topics of interest

More Related Stories