Digital

5 New Travel Startups Banking on Messaging and Artificial Intelligence

Skift Take

Messaging isn’t moving through the travel industry as fast as some would make you believe given only a few major brands have hopped on this trend. It is growing, however, and the startup sector is one that shouldn’t be ignored when considering where this technology will come from.

— Dan Peltier

seedlingsCommunicating with guests in real-time and the treasure trove of data that comes with this is what’s making messaging one of the newest darlings of the travel industry.

There are many implications for how messaging and artificial intelligence (AI) could ultimately prove successful, whether it’s during the booking funnel or after when a guest is at a hotel and looking to book services or activities.

This week we’re looking at startups that have put their eggs in the messaging and AI basket, one that only a few major brands have jumped into and last month we looked at the travel brands launching messaging bots. That will likely change as travel brands improve their overall social media strategies and become more savvy with getting their tone right with online conversations.

GuestU is a software-as-a-service mobile app for hotels helping them create their own apps. Its new Facebook Messenger bot helps hotels add a bot to their Facebook profiles so that guests can book through Facebook Messenger.

>>SkiftTake: Bots could be useful for all kinds of hotels but we’ll see if they end up gravitating more towards the higher or lower end hotels, if they end up gaining traction at all.

Exa is a voice automation tool that lets hotel guests speak requests for things like room service and booking activities. It also allows the hotel to sell additional offerings to guests while they’re in their rooms.

>>SkiftTake: This helps hotel staff focus on more complicated matters that require more attention but many guests also prefer to speak to a human for all of their needs.

SnapTravel is a messaging bot that integrates with Facebook Messenger, Slack and SMS to help travelers book hotel rooms. The company launched this month and though the bot uses natural language processing and machine learning technology, if a traveler makes a statement that is ambiguous to the bot a human agent will step in to guide it. SnapTravel will also call a hotel to negotiate a free room upgrade for a traveler’s stay.

>>SkiftTake: Having human agents as a backup will always be a necessity regardless of how advanced artificial intelligence becomes.

30 Seconds to Fly is a travel management software that helps business travelers book travel through its virtual assistant Claire on Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype and SMS.

>>SkiftTake: Bots for corporate travel booking? Who knows. What we do know is that business travelers are also consumers and don’t want to compartmentalize their booking habits. The corporate travel space certainly needs more innovation and maybe bots are one gateway towards that.

HelloGbye is a virtual assistant helping travelers store their flight rewards in an app, make changes to your trip and receive notifications for cancellations or flight delays.

>>SkiftTake: Hellogbye’s best bet is its feature that lets family members get involved in the trip planning process and stay updated on the itinerary, and also the ability to use points to rebook flights if they’re delayed or cancelled.

For all of our SkiftSeedlings coverage, check out our archives here.

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