October 24 2017: The iPhone has Siri. Microsoft has Cortana. Amazon has Alexa and Google has Google Assistant .... all Artificial Intelligence-fueled smart virtual assistants that let users talk instead of typing their queries. You can get the latest weather -- or order a pizza -- straight from your mobile phone, because these assistants are cross linked by their respective search engines to dozens of e-commerce sites and information resources.
It was inevitable that vertical markets like health, finance, travel would see the compelling advantages of such smart mobile assistants.
One of the first has been the tourism/travel/logistics business and in recent months, many solutions have appeared that help travellers get important information, faster, more easily and in the language of their choice. The main plus point of travel centric voice assistants is that you can speak in an easy conversational style instead of trying to frame a complicated question into a sentence and then typing it into a search box.
Some ready-made templates have been created that travel service providers can then tweak to serve their customers. UK-based Active OMG has created an Artificial Intelligence-based app called Ami which is fully conversational and learns on the job. The company says website sales typically increase by 20% as result of employing Ami. Ami can be looked upon as an "extra pair of hands , never sleeping, never tired, just getting on with the job".She comes with a fully equipped dashboard so you can control, optimise, and manage Ami to maximise sales and customer service.
From Spain-headquartered SmartEcoMap comes another AI-driven smart virtual assistant, Eco, that talks to travellers, understands their preferences, their needs, recommends activities, routes and places and gives information about the destination. It is geared to answer questions in real time about weather opening times of attractions, nearby facilities like toilets or taxi ranks...
These templates for smart voice assistants can be expected to be picked up the travel industry to fuel specific sites. But some Indian players are not waiting:
In August 2017, leading online travel company Yatra Online, launched a first for the Indian travel industry - a 'Smart Watch Wear App' for Android devices. The app gives users access to the booking flow of flights, hotels, buses, trains, homestays, activities and cabs. The app also harnesses Yatra's Voice-led search and Booking Chat Bots .
And an Indian app has combined live chat with humans and AI on your mobile device to offer a compelling online tool to search, discover and book worldwide hotels, flights, curated itineraries and activities. It is called TripTapToe and works with a global hotel inventory, from various suppliers and also from its own direct deals with leading hotels. The Trip Tap Toe Concierge App, on Android & iOS lets you book hotels and flights by chatting with real people -- not recorded voices-- from your smartphone. You can negotiate bookings in real-time, personalize your airfare booking, reserve seats and web-check in, book activities like sightseeing tours or recommended restaurants -- all on Chat. If you have an early check-in or a room upgrade request, just chat and it will be done before you arrive.
Indian travellers can soon expect to chat with intelligent 'bots' that will answer most of their queries without the long waiting times that human assisted customer care agents involve. Say hello to the robot travel assistant!