Driving so-called ‘conversational commerce’ is the next phase in the travel company-customer relationship but it’s a complicated affair, as Pamela Whitby has been finding out
In what Thomson is hailing as an ‘industry first’, last week the holiday group said it would trial a travel search tool using IBM’s Watson Technology, which uses natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence to allow computers to think like a human.
In a company press release, Jeremy Osborne, Director of Strategic Innovation, TUI UK&I is quoted saying:
“We wanted to test whether a conversational search experience would resonate with our customers as a new, fun and easy way to find their ideal holiday.”
And the response, it seems, was overwhelmingly positive with 77% of participants in the survey saying they would find a virtual assistant useful. The idea is that Thomson customers will be able to interact via a simple chat interface to get responses in real-time to their holiday queries.For the uninitiated, this may sound like Thomson is launching a chat bot. But the group’s conversational tool, which is still in beta, is still one step away from this.
77% of participants said they would find a virtual assistant useful
IBM’s Watson Technology, which Thomson is using, is not a chat bot solution in itself, but rather a tool to use for NLP and eventually artificial intelligence that will help make bots smarter. However, it’s not the only one, and other free alternatives have emerged that have been drawn into the fold of the internet giants; Facebook has acquired Wit.ai, Google has Api.ai and Microsoft has LUIS.
Read the full story at Eye For Travel: Conversational commerce: killer direct channel or just plain confusing?