TEXT AND ONLINE chats are fine with many travelers for handling various parts of their trips, including contacting a hotel front desk or concierge, according to a survey by Phocuswright. However, there was a limit to the respondents’ enthusiasm, and it stopped at talking with “chatbots.”
Using chatbots, or “computer-powered assistants,” was comfortable for less than 50 percent of the travelers in the Phocuswright survey. That may change as the technology behind chatbots improves, Phocuswright said in a release.
Currently chatbots are either stateless, meaning they do not keep track of a conversation but rather answer questions as they come, or semi-stateful, in which they keep track of a conversation but not other interactions with the customer. When computer assistants become stateful, or capable of keeping track of all interactions with a customer, their popularity may increase.
“Privacy laws are likely to impact how companies can use personal data. However, with the customer’s consent, this level of sophistication can enable personalized service and provide opportunities to delight travelers in a way that will make interacting with a computer rather than a person much more appealing,” Phocuswright said. “The share of travelers who are comfortable with chatbots is not insignificant: four in 10 travelers indicate they would be comfortable chatting with a computer-powered assistant. Personalized interactions would likely help to tip the scales.”
Phocuswright said several companies are working on producing the next generation of chatbots. The company’s paper “Bots: A Bright Future, or Destined for the Scrap Heap?” discusses the future of the technology.