Popular travel company Booking.com has launched a chatbot, making access to 895,00 hotels across 224 countries even easier. Travelers can use the bot on its desktop, mobile web sites, and mobile apps where they can check hotel availability, look up basic information like check-in times, or reserve parking.
One especially notable feature is that two-sided nature of the bot, which allows users to initiate conversation involving their account and allows hotels to send notifications. This is thanks to the company building the tool in-house instead of using a third party like Facebook. While Booking.com has said they have plans to integrate their bot with FB Messenger, which many brands currently use, having its own service opens up a number of possibilities, chief product officer David Vismans said, pointing to the social network’s “fundamental limitation[s].”
While platforms like Messenger might work well for U.S. and U.K.-specific companies, it’s significantly more challenging for something like international travel which brings up less FAQ-like questions and different languages. Being able to hand off a conversation to hotels allows for a more personalized—and ultimately helpful—experience that the company aims give their customers and hosts. Booking.com CEO Gillian Tans told TOPBOTS in an interview, the bot should bring a “seamless and enjoyable experience to customers and partners,” and while AI won’t replace human interaction it can “facilitate a more personalized travel experience for customers.”
Anyone who’s traveled knows it’s important to anticipate all possible scenarios, which can be difficult to accommodate in bot technology. Allowing for this exchange does that and more. Tans points out that Booking.com is already one of the biggest translation companies in the world, something demonstrated with the bot’s capabilities in 42 languages. Translation allows hotels and users to communicate efficiently with both using their native languages.
While the rollout will be over the next few months, meaning most hotel partners currently aren’t available, it’s possible that Booking.com will change the way we plan vacations and trips for the better. Tans says the company hopes to continue evolving their bot, with the ultimate goal being a “fully functional physical travel assistant that can proactively solve your travel problems before they occur.”
What do you think? Would you use the Booking.com chatbot for help on your international trips? Let us know in the comments below.