Anne Majumdar

Messaging apps are expected to propel the travel industry forward in this technological age with some big name brands already buckling up for the ride.

Think Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Skype – platforms that allow users to send instant messages, taking the concept of email to the next level.

The March Travel Expert Index from travel tech firm Sabre identified chatbots as the tech trend most experts were excited about.

So what’s so exciting about the new technology? It’s a new, highly accessible way of engaging with customers – something which is increasingly important.

Microsoft’s 2016 State of Global Customer Service Report found that 56% of global consumers have higher expectations for customer service now than one year ago – a number that jumps to 68% for 18 to 34 year olds.

Speaking at the Destination Australia conference in Sydney least week, Facebook interim managing director Paul McCrory forecast that 2 billion people would be using Messenger around the world by 2018.

Facebook's Paul McCrory speaking at Destination Australia

Facebook’s Paul McCrory speaking at Destination Australia

He identified the technology as a way of connecting travellers with the “best ideas and stories” if harnessed correctly.

“It can help to disperse them across the country and enjoy themselves, and not just make money for the city they are arriving into,” he said.

As a result, Facebook recently partnered with Qantas to launch the Qantas Concierge Bot.

The bot, which launched back in February, promises to give customers “personalised travel inspiration” with the added bonus of faster responses and more relevant information.

The launch of the bot is part of Qantas’ strategy to give customers faster responses and more relevant information through easily accessible channels.

Qantas-Concierge-Introduction

Kristin Carlos, Qantas Head of Digital and Entertainment described the feature as an “evolution” of the airline’s customer communications.

“We recognise that different people want to communicate with us in different ways,” she said.

“With over 15 million people on Facebook in Australia, growing our presence with the social networking service makes sense.”

So what’s in the virtual library of “rich travel content” accessible using the bot?

Sale information and destination inspiration in line like information about beach destinations or AirBnB’s tailored to each user using insights gained from customer interactions and conversations.

As a result, Qantas expected the artificial intelligence-backed service to become effective over time, enhancing its power as a customer service tool.

Over the course of this year, the airline will grow the chat bot’s capability to offer a full suite of concierge services including operational notifications such as itineraries, flight and gate change updates and boarding passes.

Expedia has also recently ventured into the arena, introducing a Facebook messenger bot for booking hotels back in June last year, extending the technology to Skype in December.

Are you excited about the potential of chatbots and mobile messaging? Are you already using messaging to talk travel?