Chatbots – Your Greatest Ally to Win Social Media This Year

Ashley Bowes | March 22, 2018

Look who’s talking now – Chatbots! AI (Artificial Intelligence) is social media trend # 6 in my series that discusses the top 7 trends your travel company needs to know to win social media, in 2018 and beyond.

How is AI amplifying intelligent customer care?  

Having a robot answer your customer inquiries might feel like you’re opening up the floodgate for Terminator, but chatbots could become your greatest ally in 2018.

If you’re worried about scaring away potential travellers by sounding like a bot, stop.  Chatbots have evolved to provide immediate but well-crafted, personalized responses and meaningful interactions that engage your audience. Automating won’t devalue your customer interactions, rather it’ll produce an overall positive experience for your travel brand and potential guests.

It’s estimated 70% of US travellers will turn to mobile for digital bookings by 2019. Travel brands and agencies who create their own chatbots or turn to a third-party app to build a reliable messaging bot to respond to travellers, will ultimately save themselves time that can be better spent on further offering valuable products and better service.

Did you know social media platforms you’re already using like Facebook MessengerTwitter Direct Messaging and Whatsapp Business App, offer messaging bots and are continually developing the technology to handle your customer service and engage social media users?

Why should your travel brand become more chatbot savvy?

Global domination. You’ll reach travellers worldwide. Chatbots can answer inquiries and help customers 24/7 and in multiple languages. They can provide users from around the world with quick answers and DIY solutions in a language that’s familiar to them, improving your engagement worldwide in a timely manner without losing sleep.

Want more time and money? No sweat. The technology isn’t quite ready to replace your sales team with bots but it can help automate simple and repetitive tasks like looking up available hotels, flights, public transportation schedules, local restaurants and activities, or processing payments. AI can speed up the process to take travellers from dreaming to booking faster in just a few clicks. This frees up your sales team to focus on more strategic tasks that no bot can beat like personal emails and phone calls, problem solving, creating solutions and and overall enhanced customer service.

Tip: Let customers know there’s a way to contact you if they can’t find the answers they need through the chatbot.

It’s alive! Humanize & optimize. Does your brand have a sense of humour as entertaining as Wendy’s Twitter responses? Whether your travel brand’s tone is to entertain or educate, or ideally both, you can create a bot for that. Third-party software lets you design chatbots that are customizable and can track your customer’s answers to create more personalized experiences and use natural language that feels more human and on brand. You can even create an avatar that uses a real name and photo. Like Amtrak’s virtual assistant, Julie, the chatbot that answers customer’s inquiries on Amtrak’s website by directing them to the most relevant page using keywords and can even vocalize answers if users have their sound turned on.

Tip: Closely observe your target demographic. Research the questions your customers typically ask and inquiries they may ask. This way you can craft responses, speak their natural language and direct travellers to the right information while staying ahead of the game.

Your new local guide. Whether you’re a lodge, destination, or tour operator chatbots can be designed to act as a traveller’s local guide. From recommending restaurants, accommodations, special activities, and events, looking up and providing directions to historical landmarks or trailheads, or offering advice on the best season to book, what to pack, updates on the weather forecast or travel advisories and ensuring traveller’s documents are filled out correctly. Chatbots can act as a mobile-friendly, informed local guide for travellers who want this valuable information to be only a click away before and after they book.

Tip: Use chatbots for content marketing. Selling your product shouldn’t be your main priority but you can use content to drive users to your website such as answering inquiries with links to relevant blog posts.

Stay tuned! Next post I’ll discuss Live Video and how to best implement this on social media for your travel brand.

Looking to improve your travel brand’s social media strategy? Find out more about how Bannikin can help you here.