Two travel agencies are set to test a new, AI-powered chatbot from Sabre Corporation, with the aim of helping clients save time when handling travel logistics.
The new chatbot was developed with Microsoft, and leverage’s that company’s Bot Framework and Microsoft Cognitive Services, a set of tools that organizations can use to add intelligent and conversational features to their applications, Sabre said.
Dallas-based Travel Solutions International USA and San Francisco-based Casto Travel – will test a white-label version of the chatbot with travelers, who will access it via Facebook Messenger. Travelers will use the chatbot for common service and support requests, such as changing an existing flight reservation, but will divert to a live travel agent if the bot is unable to fulfill the request.
Sabre said that the test will allow the company and its partner travel agents to evaluate travelers’ preferences for how often and when they engage the chatbot and when they are likely to divert to a live agent, allowing for a better understanding of the best way to engage travelers.
“By handling frequently-asked basic support requests, the bot will free up our agents to focus on more complex, value-added interactions with travelers,” said Claire LeBuhn, vice president, support services at TSA USA, in a written release.
New Tools for Travel Agents
The move is part of the latest in a series of developments aiming to leverage technology to help travel agents connect with their clients.
For example, Travel Leaders recently announced plans to re-launch Vacation.com as an online vacation-planning hub for consumers, dubbed simply “Vacation.” Initially focused on destination weddings and honeymoons, the revamped website will allow prospective travelers to research vacations at their own pace, before being matched with a Travel Leaders Group travel agent once they are ready to receive personalized advice.
Similarly, in March Virtuoso launched an online hotel booking tool that allows travelers to book luxury hotels online. The booking is then sent to a Virtuoso advisor, who services the booking and offers assistance for all other aspects of the trip, such as transfers, private guides and exclusive experiences.
World Travel Holdings, which owns the Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc. brands, is in the midst of a major IT investment, which so far has led to the development of tools like Cruise Watch, which monitors cruise fares for price dips, and eQuote, which aims to improve efficiency in the sales process.
In 2016, Nexion began a major, three-year update of its internal technology platform, including upgrades to the SNAP! Air booking platform and an overhaul of the WebView agent portal, which was relaunched as myNexion.