EBM News
EBM News

Chatbots, AI to transform travel industry, says this start-up

BENGALURU: Gone are those days when people used to visit travel agents to book a flight ticket or a hotel. Having known the importance of digital technology in expanding businesses, travel companies are now using artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots and other applications to transform customers’ experience to attract more travellers and retain their clients, according to travel aggregator Shoes on Loose.

This Delhi-based travel start-up was launched in 2011 by three IIT-Delhi alumni and is tapping technology to create a transparent picture between travellers and service providers, said its CEO and founder, Mohit Poddar. Shoes on Loose, currently has 50 travel experts on board, and all are trained in delivering end-to-end solutions in destination travel. “Travellers come to us and avoid companies that follow old-school models. We use chatbots to interact with them in real time — answering all their queries. This results in a two-way communication,” explained Poddar. A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users over internet.

The algorithm is based on a flow chart with probable questions and answers, he said, adding, “once they register themselves, they go through the flow to get answers, choose a place, and pay for it. The process becomes seamless with the help of AI.” Here, AI plays an important role to help convert 15 to 20 per cent users in its consumer base.

This bootstrap start-up is also working to develop a client dashboard that will help travellers access trip details, vouchers, itinerary, blogs, thereby getting a complete knowledge of the destination they are heading for. Moreover, if someone visits the website, the system also analyses the number of visits, the kind of blogs being read, and the packages being enquired about. “We get all kinds of insights to help them in a better way,” said Poddar.

The travel aggregator has developed the concept of ‘destination experts’, where each of its team members is working on only one destination at a time, he said, adding, “They channelise their effort and time to curate value for money itinerary for clients to deliver the best experience. We also have our in-house CRMs in place.” The start-up is coming up with an app so that it can help people raise issues and communicate directly with channel partners and service providers.