Chatbots are coming to the last frontier of the travel industry. Booking.com plans to bring artificial intelligence and conversational interfaces to a realm of hospitality that was thought to be the sole domain of humans with local knowledge: destination experiences.
Today at MobileBeat 2016, Booking.com unveiled what it calls Booking Experiences, a service that will help people decide what to do once they arrive at their destination. “The real question [facing a traveler] is what should I do when I get to a destination?” said Anne-Sophie Liduena, VP of product for Booking.com.
The new service will leverage A.I. and machine learning to present personalized recommendations from an exhaustive list of local events and attractions, and enable people to purchase tickets or make reservations from within Booking.com’s mobile app.
“Bots and AI are empowering us to interact with our surroundings,” Liduena said. “We can be provided with highly relevant suggestions to enhance our daily lives.”
Booking Experiences is available July 13, 2016 on both the Android and iOS versions of the Booking.com app for Amsterdam. The pilot launches for Paris, London, and Dubai at the end of July and will go live for New York this fall.
Booking.com has been pressing forward with bots and A.I. over the past year. In February, the company unveiled hotel recommendations tailored to travelers’ passions, and in May it launched a chatbot to connect hotels and travelers.
It’s not alone, however. For instance, in June, Expedia launched its first bot, which is dedicated to booking hotels. And today, also at MobileBeat 2016, newcomer SnapTravel launched with a half-bot, half-human hotel-booking service.
Bookings Experience will use data from the millions of trips made with Booking.com, combine it with travelers’ personal preferences, and then marry it to possible experiences — everything from rock climbing to rock concerts — at each destination. The company is no stranger to data, listing more than 974,000 hotels and accommodations, including more than 474,000 vacation rental properties, covering over 93,000 destinations in 224 countries, and accumulating more than 97 million customer reviews.
Booking.com is betting that its trove of information, and the ability of a bot to continuously learn from its customers, will provide them with the kinds of experiences and city knowledge known only to locals.
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