Did you know we’re in the dying days of ‘click-type-tap’? No, we didn’t either. But according to global travel search engine giant, Booking.com, this type of online booking behaviour is rapidly being replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ‘bots’.
Click-type-tap is where you click on what you want to do, type something in, then tap ‘search’. It’s how 80% of us currently do our own online travel searching and booking. (As opposed to visiting a High Street travel agency or picking up the phone).
All that online activity has now created what is called in the industry ‘big data’ which can then be ‘mined’. Sophisticated algorithms can then be built using this intelligence.
As a result, Booking.com’s new ‘AI-powered Booking Assistant chatbot’ is already in training and so far it can ‘respond to 30% of customers’ stay-related questions automatically in less than five minutes’.
But what does this all actually mean? Well, searching for destinations online using the click-type-tap approach will probably now deliver pages of irrelevant ‘stuff’ that travel marketers have thought you might be interested in, whereas this new booking assistant will have learnt what you had searched for before and so will only deliver the pages that it thinks you might be interested in.
The result, according to the company, is “an even more personalised, instantaneously gratifying and frictionless travel experience for consumers”.
(We don’t have space in this blog to talk about a ‘frictionless travel experience’, suffice to say we don’t think the person who said it has ever been on a Virgin Pendolino train).
How else is AI going to transform the travel industry? Well, according to a survey carried out by the company, almost a third (29%) of global travellers said they would be comfortable letting a computer plan an upcoming trip ‘based on data from their previous travel history’ and half (50%) don’t mind if they deal with a real person or computer, so long as any questions are answered.
50% also said that that personalised suggestions for destinations and things to do (provided by a Bot) would encourage them to book a trip.
So there you have it. Amazon’s Alexa voice service will no longer just turn on your lights but will book your next holiday too. Spooky, huh?