Industry Update
Press Release 9 May 2018

Chatbot Revolution Set to Transform Travel Planning

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BOOKING.COM

For business travelers on the go, chatbots linked to travel and accommodation providers are an increasingly valued tool, enabling them to take advantage of Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered voice chats or instant messages for an array of travel queries - such as checking the weather and seeking city-wide transportation options - as well as receiving quick customer support. Gartner, a leading global research and advisory company, predicted as far back as 2011 that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will would take place via chatbot, and that by 2021, 50 percent of enterprises would spend more on bots than mobile apps. This means that the travel industry has to embrace this technology at a rapid pace in order to satisfy growing demand.

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Research shows that consumers have already warmed up to the idea. A recent Booking.com survey revealed that a large majority of travellers (80%) prefer to self-serve in order to get the information they need, and half (50%) don't mind whether they deal with a real person or a computer as long as their questions are answered. For queries about travel plans made with Booking.com, this demand is being met by the AI-enabled Booking Assistant, to which travellers can ask post-accommodation booking questions on anything from payment to transportation, arrival and departure times, date changes and internet availability, all via their preferred device and platform. Booking Assistant is now able to handle almost 50% of these customer stay inquiries automatically. This means increased convenience, reliability and speed for business travellers, whose busy schedules require prompt and accurate business travel support.

When planning a business trip in particular, travelers want to ensure that unknowns are kept to a minimum, so reassurance that any queries can be answered swiftly will bring peace of mind, and minimize any additional stress.

Beyond their speed and simplicity, chatbots offer the continued opportunity to improve the customer experience with their ability to tap into vast amounts of information that it would take a human much longer to process. There is still a place for human interaction however - if the Booking Assistant has identified a question it can't solve on its own, it enlists support from either its customer service team or the property, depending on which is most appropriate. AI is not about replacing human interaction, but is instead a vehicle to facilitate an even more personalized, instantaneously gratifying and frictionless travel experience for consumers. The winning combination of AI and human interaction is fuelling a more personalized, rewarding and frictionless travel experience.

References

1. Gartner - CRM Strategies and Technologies to Understand, Grow and Manage Customer Experiences

2. Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among 18,509 respondents (1,000+ from the UK, US, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, India, Singapore and Russia and 500+ each from Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Croatia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Thailand and Taiwan). Respondents completed an online survey in August 2017

3. As above

About Booking.com

Established in 1996 in Amsterdam, Booking.com B.V. has grown from a small Dutch start-up to one of the largest travel e-commerce companies in the world. Part of Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), Booking.com now employs more than 17,500 employees in 198 offices in 70 countries worldwide. With a mission to empower people to experience the world, Booking.com invests in digital technology that helps take the friction out of travel. At Booking.com, we connect travelers with the world's largest selection of incredible places to stay, including everything from apartments, vacation homes, and family-run B&Bs to 5-star luxury resorts, tree houses and even igloos. The Booking.com website and mobile apps are available in 40 languages, offer over 29 million total reported listings, including more than 6 million listings of homes, apartments and other unique places to stay, and covers more than 152,000 destinations in 228 countries and territories worldwide.

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