How are travel companies performing today when it comes to support? In a recent experiment covered by NASDAQ, customer service quality was tested and measured across 3,000 of the top global travel and hospitality brands worldwide. Let’s just say there’s lots of room for improvement.
To remove stress and surprise and delight customers with effortless experiences, companies are adopting AI-powered travel chatbots to engage with guests at every step of the customer journey.
Travelers today expect more: quick resolutions when an issue arises, personalized interactions, and the utmost convenience. As the travel industry continues its comeback during a continuing global pandemic, guests return to the skies and check into hotels with higher expectations than ever before. All of these factors point to why customer support chatbots in travel are becoming more prevalent. Below we’ve highlighted the best chatbots in travel.
The 7 best hotel and airline chatbots
WestJet launched Juliet, a Netomi-powered, multilingual AI virtual assistant on chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Google Assistant. Juliet is the most accurate AI chatbot to date, having fully resolved 74 percent of customer service tickets autonomously without human intervention. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, WestJet saw a 45X spike in customer service calls. Capable of answering hundreds of questions, Juliet deflected tens of thousands of calls from human agents.
Since Juliet launched, customer satisfaction (CSAT) has jumped 24 percent. Without Juliet, the airline would have struggled to scale customer support operations during the challenging time when travelers rushed to cancel trips as the result of rapidly changing travel restrictions and guidelines.
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has a chatbot that is truly unparalleled. Rose, the Resident Mischief-Maker and Digital Concierge, oozes the resort’s secretive and flirty personality and promises: “If you’re looking for trouble, I can hook you up with the best we have to offer.” By sending a text, Rose can help guests make restaurant recommendations and book tables, spa treatments, event tickets, self-guided tours, as well as answer questions about hotel services. This chatbot, trained with over 1,000 threads and unique journeys, makes the list due to a personality that entices guests to engage throughout their stay, thus driving revenue.
According to the president of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, “[Rose’s] playful personality has wooed hotel guests who booked directly into spending 37 percent more than guests who do not engage with her.”
Megabus launched Chuck, an email chatbot, in the wake of the pandemic to help with the surge in tickets coming from travelers looking to reschedule or cancel trips. The agent team was drowning in a spike in volume and ghost contacts, a term referring to when the same customer reaches out on multiple channels for support on a single issue. Within weeks, Megabus launched its Netomi AI-powered email bot to provide immediate responses to the most pressing questions like reservation changes, cancellations and refunds, and lost baggage. The AI behind Chuck is also improving over time and coverage rates are now approaching 80 percent. Megabus agents are now empowered to focus on more complex issues.
Edwardian Hotels London’s Edward is an SMS AI chatbot that teaches guests about hotel amenities, gives directions and tips, and even helps guests submit complaints. With Edward, the entire guest experience becomes self-service, including selecting rooms, checking in, and paying.
Powered by AI and natural language processing, Edward can understand with high accuracy guests’ needs and assist with more than 1,200 topics, such as packages included, departure time, upgrades, adding amenities, ordering room service, and more. By integrating with back-end systems, the bot syncs incoming requests with the mobile number to identify the individual guest. Within seconds, Edward accesses the customer profile to provide a hyper-personalized experience. If the bot can’t help, it will route the guest to the specific person at the hotel who can. If a request isn’t taken care of efficiently, Edward will route a request all the way to the general manager.
According to Michael Mrini, director of IT for Edwardian Hotels London, “One of the most popular questions Edward gets is, ‘Is breakfast included in my booking?’ Edward will check, and if it’s not included, he will respond with the cost, offer a promo, and add it to the reservation for the guest. Edward can do this much faster than a human needing to look up a reservation.”
Edward is responsible for increasing room service sales by 10–50 percent. The bot has helped more than 30,000 guests from 99 countries speaking 59 different languages, and so far in 2019, has managed 69 percent of all guest requests—saving approximately 95 working days.
Southwest makes the list not for a traveler-facing app but one designed to help in the recruiting and hiring process. The bot can answer questions related to open positions and ask applicants about eligibility, pay rates, and skills. Previously, it took the airline up to 45 days to offer a candidate a job after posting the position. With more than 2,000 job openings, the recruiting department needed help. The chatbot can help cut hiring time in half. Since launching, the bot has interacted with more than 1.2 million job applicants, which would have taken human recruiters 18,000–92,000 hours to handle.
According to Southwest’s Talent Acquisition Specialist Sarah Steinmann, the airline “had thousands of candidates visiting our career site without a really easy, clear way to find answers to their questions.” Since launching the bot, 28 percent of visitors click on a job suggested by the bot and of those, 57 percent apply.
The tour-operating arm of Emirates Airlines created a unique chatbot experience within display ads. People could ask about trips and get answers directly within the ad unit and receive personalized travel recommendations. Conversations are tailored “based on the context of users’ questions, the content on the site it appears on, and Emirates Vacations’ inventory.”
During the trial of this new ad unit, Emirates saw an 87 percent increase in engagement as compared to standard display ads. This is an innovative deployment of a chatbot to provide contextual, personalized, and engaging experiences.
In over 4,000 rooms, WYNN Las Vegas and Encore Resort added Alexa Echo devices to enable guests to simply speak out loud to get answers to more than 200 questions. According to Alex Robinson Hinkle, vice president of marketing, Wynn Las Vegas, “Our front desk and concierge staff are always available and happy to assist guests personally, but for those who prefer, Alexa is yet another amenity we can offer for their ease and convenience.”
The power of the WYNN Alexa bot is its ability to simplify the guest experience—allowing people to check the weather, call the front desk, order room service, and even control the temperature of the room by talking to Alexa. The bot has some powerful natural language capabilities, too. In the first two months alone, the bot was trained to understand 5,000 different ways a guest might ask for an on-property bar or restaurant. The results of this contactless experience have been incredible, with over 83.7 percent customer satisfaction.
Travelers love chatbots
As the industry rebounds, airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and other travel companies need to prioritize the customer experience to remove friction from every touchpoint and personally engage with individuals along the customer journey. And research shows that travelers embrace chatbots like the ones featured in this article. In fact, 37 percent of users actually prefer to deal with a chatbot when arranging travel plans. This is great news for every travel company looking to provide better guest experiences, reduce costs, and drive incremental revenue.