Forget the destination knowledge obtained through years of training, the human compassion and the ability to solve issues in real-time because apparently you don’t need any of it to be considered a personal travel consultant.

That is according to Tigerair Australia, which used those words to describe its newly launched Facebook chatbot because it can guide travellers through the booking process, retrieve itineraries and answer some questions with pre-recorded answers.

Well, if that isn’t a kick in the gut.

Spinning+Back+Kick+to+the+Gut

In case you aren’t familiar with the concept of the chatbot, it’s artificial intelligence designed to respond to specific inquiries. While it’s capable of understanding languages and commands, it has its limitations because most of its ‘intelligence’ is pre-programed.

Think Siri on the iPhone or the chatbots you use to practice your Spanish on apps such as Duolingo.

Applessiri

As impressive as the technology is, referring to it as a ‘personal travel consultant’ seems a bit of a stretch considering all the things real-life personal travel consultants offer that online or chatbots don’t such as babysitting reservations, the ability to construct complex itineraries and click here for more.

But alas, that is what Tigerair Australia’s Commercial Director, Andrew Maister, described it as when saying it’s available “at any time of the day or night” (erm, like home-based Agents).

“Toby [the chatbot, named after the airline’s mascot] acts as your own personal travel consultant at any time of the day or night, helping you search for the best value flights for your next trip and guiding you through the booking process.”

Andrew Maister, Tigerair Australia Commercial Director

“Toby is the latest in a line of product enhancements we have introduced in recent times to improve the customer experience, such as mobile boarding passes and self-serve kiosks at our key ports.”

Tigerair Feature

If you’re curious to start a conversation with ‘Toby’, log onto Facebook, click through to the Tigerair profile page and select ‘message’. Alternatively, when using the Facebook Messenger app on a mobile, simply start a new conversation and search for ‘Toby – Tigerair Australia’.

Once you’ve selected that you want to chat to Toby, there will be a ‘Get Started’ button at the bottom of the Messenger screen, which will prompt a welcome message from the chatbot and instructions on how to continue.

Tigerair flagged that: “at any point where Toby cannot help, the user can request to speak to a human and will be transferred over to Tigerair’s dedicated social media team who will be able to provide more detailed assistance”.

Do you consider a chatbot to be as capable as a personal travel consultant?