Half-baked digital marketing schemes are everywhere. Maybe someone has approached you recently claiming to provide astronomical growth for your business with a far fetched program or strategy – for a small fee, of course.
But for all the nonsense that it exists, some cutting edge strategies are worth investing in.
Over this series of posts we will explore a few of the trending digital marketing tactics that are worth considering especially for those in the Travel, Tour and Hospitality Industries.
Should my travel business have a chatbot?
By the year 2020, Gartner predicts that 85% of all customer interactions with businesses will be completed without human contact thanks to artificial intelligence.
Businesses that are taking advantage of new technologies like AI and, specifically, chatbots provide customers and potential customers with a better experience for a low initial investment – especially business in the travel and tourism industry.
Here are a few examples:
Due to the headache of road traffic and expense of air travel, Amtrak has been reborn.
Boasting free wifi and a comfortable environment, Amtrak is now the preferred mode of transportation for many professionals. With around 375,000 daily website visitors, Amtrak needed a way to provide exceptional service to their many guests.
Amtrak’s chatbot, Julie, answers questions and assist guests with transactions. Since her creation, Julie has been quite successful, boasting:
- An 8x return on investment
- $1 million in customer service email costs saved
- 50% year-over-year growth in usage
- An average of 30% more revenue per booking with Julie vs. traditional methods
- 5 million answered questions per year!
Expedia booked over $88 billion dollars in hotels in 2017, demonstrating steady year-over-year growth. This success can be attributed in part to their understanding and mastery of new technologies like chatbots.
Expedia’s Facebook and Skype messenger bot has one simple goal: Help people book hotels.
Using natural conversation, guests can find the perfect hotel for their trip and make a reservation through the chatbot interface.
Expedia is on the leading edge of AI technology, thanks to their Expedia skill for Amazon Alexa as well.
This world renowned leader in hospitality services has invested in ChatBotlr, a new chatbot accessible by text message.
ChatBotlr gives guests of Aloft Hotels the ability to make service requests right from their smartphones, anywhere, anytime.
“By embracing emerging messaging technologies, we can expand service to our guests on their terms and through communication channels they increasingly prefer and feel comfortable using.” – Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International
A Digital Touchpoint
Chatbots provide a great digital touchpoint for your potential (or existing!) customers.
This touch point has significant impact over a banner ad or email because the customer receives real value from the interaction by getting their questions answered in a low pressure environment.
“Sales calls” and point of sale conversations can put an uncomfortable level of pressure on your potential customer. A bot provides a low pressure environment for the customer to gain the information they are looking for – and they can be used for transactional services, as well.
Engaging with your customers on the internet is an absolute necessity, but this process can be incredibly time consuming.
Chatbots can leverage existing customer information to make the repurchasing a quick and pain-free transaction, and new customers get the opportunity to have their initial inquiries handled quickly.
Customer service staff is valuable. And expensive.
Chatbots can answer preliminary and monotonous questions, allowing your highly trained staff members to spend their valuable time on the more nuanced inquiries and support issues.
This will not only increase the quality of the service provided, but also cut down on overall costs for your business.
Upselling and Cross-Selling
Your chatbot can also make your company money in a more traditional sense.
A chatbot will not forget to take the opportunity to upsell your customers with deals that relate specifically to their purchases, whereas a human sales professional may forget about a promotion or simply be in too great of a hurry to provide this information.
Perhaps the most underrated feature of a chatbot is the data that your company is able to assemble on your customers. Chatbots store all the questions they receive, allowing you to know exactly what your customers are looking for – and providing you the opportunity to further improve the chatbot’s functionality through hands-on testing.
Your company sells cruise voyages. Your Facebook Messenger bot receives hundreds of inquiries related to Cuban cruises, but you don’t provide a Cuban cruise. Armed with this data, you can confidently invest in providing and marketing a cruise to Cuba. All you have to do now is sit back and watch the sales come in!
How to get started?
One of the biggest perceived barriers of entry to chatbots is not knowing how to code one. After all, people associate artificial intelligence with complex code. But it’s actually incredibly easy to get your very own chat bot set up.
You can create your own chatbot with user-friendly services like Mobile Monkey, Amazon Lex, It’s Alive!, Chattypeople, or MotionAI.
For larger businesses, there are many third-party experts who can help you build and leverage chatbot technology.
Set Your Goals
A chatbot cannot function without an objective.
Sit down and write out exactly what you want your bot to do. Whether that is answer simple customer inquiries, acquire leads, or processes transactions, your bot needs a goal or it won’t function properly – and you will be writing triggers for days (more about that later)!
Name Your Bot
While C3PO and HAL are great, your bot is important part of your brand. So unless you are selling pop culture memorabilia, we recommend keeping your bot name relevant to your company.
If your company is called Bob’s Travel Agency, try something like “Bobbie Travel.” It also doesn’t hurt test a few names to see which one users respond to best.
Program Your Bot
The best part about online chatbot building services is that they allow you to build a bot without any coding!
All you have to do is set up triggers and responses for as many inquiries as you’d like your bot to be able to respond to. Your bot can respond via text, media, buttons, and more!
Deploy the Bot
Once you have programmed your bot with all the triggers and responses you need, send the test link out to your friends and colleagues so they can help you ensure that your bot is working well.
Next, deploy your bot in the appropriate channels. Chatbots can typically be set up on a website, Facebook Messenger, Skype or Slack. Before selecting your chatbot building platform, make sure that it will work with the channel you would like to use (and make sure you know which channels your customers are most likely to use!).
Your chatbot platform should include analytics allowing you to see what questions the bot is answering most frequently and what questions are being asked that your bot doesn’t have an answer to – in addition to many more insights.
Use this data to both improve your bot and your business as a whole.
Chatbot platforms are free to try, so go crazy and test as many demos as you can to determine the right bot for your business.
We would love to hear from you, so leave a comment below about how your business is using or thinking about using a chatbot or with any questions you may have.
A lot of businesses are struggling to get started with new trends in internet marketing like chatbots.
These companies are over spending on outdated methods and aren’t getting the return on investment that they need. At Rocket Clicks we are ahead of the curve on new trends and experts in the established disciplines of internet marketing. We would love to lend you a hand with an obligation-free consultation of your business.