The online travel agency space is a fast evolving sector—adopting new technologies to make travel planning, research and booking more intuitive and convenient. One of the big switches was an app-first philosophy that online travel companies such as Goibibo, which was acquired by MakeMyTrip in 2016, introduced in this competitive space.
And now, advances in data engineering and artificial intelligence (AI) are shaping the future of travel. Another big frontier for online travel space is conversational commerce which combines conversational design and NLU (Natural language Understanding). It has the potential to add considerable value to all types of travel-related activities including allowing customers to do travel search and booking—while talking in their native languages.
“At Goibibo, we are at the forefront of using technology and test unexplored ways to make travel booking intuitive and hassle-free for our customers,” says Anshuman Bapna, chief product officer, Goibibo. “We are making significant investments in product and technology to ensure we are placing the right bets as we see future of travel evolve.”
The company’s main focus is on personalisation, conversational commerce and bringing AI out of labs for customer focused solutions. Be it chatbots like Gia on Goibibo that has reduced in-person support ticket handling by more than 25% on the platform or seat selection and seamless delivery of hotel vouchers on chat app of people’s choice, tech is at the forefront of its customer acquisition and retention strategy. “Chatbots are taking up a large number of post-booking travel queries. On our platform, up to 25% post-booking queries are handled through chatbots. This ecosystem is ready to move to the retail side. We believe chatbots are becoming one port of call for all customer related queries for pre-booking and availability details as well,” he informs.
Using AI and conversational commerce, it has developed a conversation based app targeting the next 100 million internet users who are fairly new to the web and primarily use budget smartphones. “The new app is in its pilot phase and will allow its users to converse in their own regional language,” Bapna adds.
Bapna says there is a massive platform fragmentation that lies ahead of the company with instant apps gaining popularity across sectors. “Instantly interactive app experience is sliced in a web-like app experience with customisation, to try an app or game just with one tap on the Android, without installing it first. These Android apps focus on enhanced user experience and are engaging with more users each day by providing ease of access, build usability and save time and space,” Bapna said.