CIs and their meaning for the Travel Industry

Woke up this morning after a great 10 hours long economy flight to Bogotá. The "great" part was intentionally ironic. 

Fifth week in a row that I have to spend in a different country for business purposes. While having breakfast I started questioning on more time the sense of kicking off a new work week in a different country: new faces, same story. It was when I realized that traveling is the most disruptive and utterly terrifying experience in the world. It changes your habits without asking and it challenges a lot your lust for convenience.  

Then I started to go deeper into the reasons why I fell in love with this industry to such an extend that it became my work and passion. It was when I discovered that the thing I like most about Travel is that the industry, such as myself, is always condemned to adopt. The new, the old, the happy, the sad. Everything is combined in a symphony of what one may call rowing towards the calm. Because all what we actually seek is the tranquility that every little itsy bitsy tiny thing will have a sense and meaning and will help us be alright. And that leads me to the actual topic I would like to tackle in today's post: the Conversational Interfaces. What a brutal shift right? Well let me try to prove the connection.

Mostly known as Chatbots or Virtual Assistants, Conversational Interfaces, have started making a significant impact in the Travel business/brand communication landscape. Though many companies have realized that conversational interfaces are likely to cause a major shift in brand communication and the traveling and traveler's experience, almost no one have quantified the impact of them for the industry.

But why are CIs so hype? What problem do they solve? And why do we need them?

The answer to this, at least from my understanding, is that when it comes to Travel: Useful is the new cool!

Therefore: Why are CIs useful?

Well as the name says the first thing that pops in my mind is that they provide a new type of interface, where "Content becomes the style", where the design is centered on a minimal visual design and where the words become the primary UI elements. And the best is yet to come: These type of interfaces are natively adopted by the traveler mainly because they are the interfaces used already for other purposes in the day to day life. 

Now to the conversational part. At first I thought "conversation" is not such of a good word for describing what these interfaces actually do. But then I thought of the complexity that a conversation is built of. The thoughts, the message, the reply. Those were capabilities only the smartness of the human intelligence could solve. But not anymore. Once you build a conversational flow right these interfaces will not only understand you but they will anticipate travelers’ needs and provide the right solutions/answers with minimum user input and stored information. 

So what does change for me, the 10 hour jetlagged traveler?

Lots may thing it's going to change a lot. To me it changes just one very humanoid thing: it calms my panic and makes me feel I am not alone. Not alone when I miss a flight connection, nor when my bags get lost or when my hotel room was not what I payed for. It strengthens the feeling that somebody smarter and not necessarily human is always there for me and is enabled to help me.

The other side of this empowerment generated in the Traveler is the mayor strategic shift travel brands need to take to process and make the CIs the most important communication channel of their organization. CIs will redefine brands, will reorganize departments and will reshape work as we know it in the industry. One clear example here will be the urgent need CIs will create in internalizing and monitor all the Customer Service actions travel brands will design and deliver.

To sum up a talk that could go on forever we are on the verge of the first serious operational game changer since the invention of trains, plains, hotels. As AI takes over more of the user experience, it grows beyond just an intelligent interface. With each customer interaction becoming more personalized, powerful, and natural, AI moves into an even more prominent position: your digital spokesperson.And by taking on this role, AI will eventually become your digital brand. And we're sure eager to find out what this is all about.

 Made with love for the jet lag.