Consumers want to use chatbots in travel planning

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More than two-thirds of Americans would like to use chatbots to improve the online travel experience, according to a new study from Humley. The survey of 1,000 Americans gauged consumer frustrations and preferences regarding online experiences within the travel and hospitality industries. 

Consumers are searching for a solution that makes booking both vacation and business travel easier, the report shows, and consumers see travel chatbots as a viable option. Two-thirds of those surveyed would find a chatbot useful (40 percent) or very useful (26 percent) in managing all of their business and work travel arrangements.

More than one-third (37 percent) of users would prefer to deal with an intelligent chatbot when arranging travel plans or comparing booking options. In fact, demand for chatbots that can save users both time and money was incredibly high. Humley’s survey results demonstrate that 87 percent of users would interact with a travel chatbot if it could save them both time and money. 

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“Travelers are looking for new ways to find deals on all facets of their travel arrangements,”  said Adam Harrold, managing director and chief technical architect of Humley, in a statement. “It’s clear that chatbots have caught their attention as a much-needed and helpful tool, but not all chatbots are equally adept of helping consumers navigate deals, book flights or rooms or learn about destinations.”

Consumers are arranging trips online with 84 percent of respondents using services such as Kayak or Expedia when booking travel. Even though users are turning to online services when booking travel, 62 percent of users still find it somewhat difficult to very difficult to find the right deal. Nearly half of users (49 percent) surveyed visit between four and seven websites to find a hotel within their budget. A quarter of users surveyed have booked the wrong flight, hotel or rental service due to the website being confusing.

Surprisingly, consumers also are turning to the web versus people they know for ideas on where to go. Seventy percent research where to go and what to see or do within a destination via websites. This is compared to just 16 percent of those who ask their friends. Interest in using online resources to discover new places to visit was high. Over three-quarters (79 percent) of users were open to asking a chatbot on the condition it could reliably function as a concierge.

In the "State of Chatbots 2018" research, it was found consumers feel chatbots are 35 percent better than applications at answering both quick and complex questions. This need to provide fast service 24/7 isn't just a millennial mandate either. In fact, baby boomers are more likely than millennials to predict they'd see greater benefit from chatbots in five of the ten uses cases studied. This alters the notion that modern technology is only affecting younger generations.

The adoption of chatbots is still very early, yet the study found 15 percent of all consumers had engaged with a chatbot in the past 12 months. The most surprising data points of the research include that consumers see chatbots as a faster way to connect humans. Thirty-four percent of all consumers see chatbots as helpful in finding human-service assistance.