Few industries were affected as much by the COVID-19 pandemic as travel. Halfway through 2022, however, the industry is seeing a massive rebound. In fact, according to the U.S. Travel Association, domestic leisure travel spending has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels, even when adjusted for inflation.
Over the past few years, customers have also grown accustomed to interacting with AI across many different areas of their spending—and the majority enjoy and expect it. A recent report from Oracle found that almost three-quarters of travelers were either “very” or “somewhat” interested in travel companies utilizing AI as a means to provide more personalized offers and customer service.
With travel spending on the rise and consumers ready to engage with increased AI technology, now’s the perfect time to up your organization’s customer experience with powerful conversational AI.
Let’s walk through 5 ways travel companies are using conversational AI to enhance their customers’ levels of satisfaction and drive sales.
Why is Conversational AI Important For Travel?
Every customer-facing industry experiences high levels of support requests. But what makes the travel industry unique is the necessity for quick answers available at any time of day. A customer with a question about a delayed flight or hotel check-in issue doesn’t have time to wait and is looking for an immediate response.
Because of the nature of this high volume, a fast moving support system such as conversational chatbots are an incredibly powerful tool to elevate customer care.
How Do Companies Leverage Conversational AI for Travel Sales?
Across the travel industry, companies are using conversational AI to enhance the user experience in travel sales and support. This includes airlines, hotels, rental car companies, tourist destinations, and many other related areas of the overall travel experience.
Here are 5 of the most common ways we’re seeing travel companies utilize conversational AI.
24/7 Customer Support
Travel operations run around the clock. Early flights and late night check-ins are commonplace, as are issues associated with these travel details. And the last thing a customer wants to do when running into issues with their 4 am flight is sit on hold waiting for an hour for customer service.
Instead, imagine a world where issues can be addressed in real time without the need for human agents in many cases. This is absolutely possible thanks to conversational AI.
No matter which sector of the travel industry your team is a part of, booking new travel is a crucial element of business operations. Turning website prospects into customers in the form of confirmed bookings generates new revenue, and being able to increase the number of booked clients consistently overtime is a goal of every travel company.
When prospects are researching travel options on your website, they are bound to run into questions. Some may have concerns about scheduling. Others may want to dig into pricing. Perhaps technical difficulties are getting in the way of closing the deal. Whatever the reason, it’s a great idea to offer conversational AI support to help these prospects cross the threshold to become customers.
Conversational AI can even be used to guide prospects down the sales funnel, acting as a personal travel agent for consumers. Many companies present options that include “Make a Booking,” “Hotel Recommendations,” or “Current Offers” to educate and convert website visitors.
“My travel dates have changed. Can you help me adjust my flight?”
“I’d like information on rental car upgrades, please.”
“I no longer need my hotel reservation. Can you cancel my reservation?”
These are just a few of the most common assistance requests in the travel industry. In a support organization that operates with no AI, all of these customer support tickets would be assigned the same level of priority, and routed to agents in a first-in, first-out sequence. This is not ideal and makes it so the customer has to wait until an agent is available to engage.
Using a conversational AI platform, the customer support process could be improved immensely. Here’s a possible scenario. With conversational AI, a customer who wants to change their flight dates could quickly engage with a chatbot tool, which integrates directly with the flight inventory platform, verifying availability, making the change, and alerting the customer of the successful switch.
All with no human agent intervention and within minutes instead of hours. What does this result in? Substantial cost savings on your end and a better overall experience for your customers.
Automate Common Support Tasks
Every industry has its list of most common support tasks, and travel is no different.
How would your customer support operations change, however, if the most mundane and simple tasks could be automated? With conversational AI, this dream can be reality—giving your agents time to focus on more complex tickets.
Here’s a common customer request: resetting a forgotten password. With conversational AI enabled on your website, these tasks can be taken care of easily. The same can be said for common travel-specific tasks like checking if a plane or train is running on schedule.
Using in-depth machine learning techniques, conversational AI tools can interpret the sentiment, tone, and need behind requests and then utilize knowledge articles, past cases, and existing macros to provide an answer instantly. This provides your customers with an excellent experience while allowing your agents to spend their time on top-priority tickets.
Simplify Travel Customer Support
Let’s walk through a hypothetical (and common) travel scenario. As you’re reviewing plans for your upcoming vacation, you realize that your flight lands at 10 am but check-in at the hotel isn’t until 3 pm. You decide to request an early check-in with the hotel and give them a call.
Your call is routed to a central line and you’re told that the current wait time is 90 minutes. And there’s no option for a callback.
So in order for you to get an early check-in added to your stay, you have to sit and wait on the phone for more than an hour. What if you could simply hop on the company’s website, engage with their conversational AI tool, and request an early check-in right then and there, in less than 5 minutes?
That would be an absolute game changer. And guess what? It’s totally possible with the right conversational AI tool.
Ready to learn more about conversational AI from Forethought? Get in touch with us today for a free demo of our solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Conversational AI for Travel
How is AI being used in travel?
From itinerary assistance to help with booking, the travel industry has really begun to embrace AI over the last few years. Conversational AI can be found at multiple touch points in the customer journey, including automating common support tasks, providing 24/7 assistance, and providing much faster results than waiting on hold to speak with a human agent.
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