If your company doesn't have an artificial intelligence-fueled chatbot, the odds are you will one day. Is your company going to sit out this trend like so many procrastinators, or resource-constrained companies, did when the first crop of mobile apps appeared? History does have a habit of repeating itself but it doesn't have to.
Combining artificial intelligence, user-generated content and messaging capabilities, TripAdvisor has launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that provides recommendations for restaurants, attractions, hotels and flights.
While TripAdvisor makes its recommendations within its chatbot on Facebook Messenger, the booking part takes place on TripAdvisor.com.
If you chat with TripAdvisor on your mobile device, asking about the best vegetarian restaurants in San Juan, Puerto Rico, you get a list of 10 dining recommendations, replete with photos, a ranking, information on the pricing and cuisine, and whether the establishment is open.
TripAdvisor makes the recommendations based on its millions of user reviews and the dialogue all takes place within Facebook Messenger.
Although the app, which TripAdvisor has been testing for awhile, makes recommendations for hotels and restaurants around the world, it is currently only available in English.
As with other artificial intelligence apps, TripAdvisor hopes it learns more about individuals’ preferences the more they use the chatbot.
When asked about the best deal for a vacation to San Francisco in May, the TripAdvisor chatbot asked me things like “From when exactly?”
I specified May 14 to 20 but it replied, “How long do you want to stay?” and displayed buttons such as 1 night, 2 nights, 5 nights and 1 week. There was also an option not to change anything.
So the app has a long way to go in terms of fluidity but you can see how it would be particularly useful in-destination on vacation or in your hometown when scouting for places to eat and things to do.
Users can access the TripAdvisor chatbot here on mobile or desktop; through Facebook Messenger, desktop or mobile, or Facebook.com, and enter @TripAdvisorBot.
When I asked TripAdvisor through Facebook Messenger, “What is a good hotel in Barcelona April 5 for less than $200?” it replied asking me how long I want to stay. Conveniently, the reply appeared in the Facebook Messenger app on desktop and I also received a desktop notification.
It then produced eight hotel recommendations — in the Facebook Messenger app and on Facebook Messenger desktop — in Barcelona for less than $200. Selecting them in the Facebook Messenger app on mobile didn’t enable me to navigate anywhere but clicking on a hotel recommendation in Facebook Messenger allowed me to navigate to TripAdvisor.com to view hotel deals and make a booking.
The user experience is far from seamless but the potential is definitely there to retrieve recommendations for what TripAdvisor terms “the perfect trip.”
Chatbots and artificial intelligence will be trending for the next few years and lots of travel companies, from Cheapflights to Hyatt and Expedia, have already launched their features.
TripAdvisor’s is somewhat differentiated because bookings aren’t the overriding focus. The TripAdvisor chatbot relies on its massive roster of user reviews to produce reliable recommendations — hopefully.
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Photo credit: An image of the TripAdvisor chatbot as it appears on Facebook Messenger desktop. TripAdvisor