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Booking.com expands global access to its support chatbot

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Booking.com has announced the expansion of the pilot version of its new service and support chatbot, the Booking Assistant, now available to English-language bookings worldwide. As the latest evolution of Booking.com’s messaging platform, the Booking Assistant merges proprietary artificial intelligence technology with customer support. Booking Assistant empowers customers to get first-line support for their upcoming bookings, including timely responses to their most common stay-related requests, through a single intuitive chat interface.

Booking Assistant leverages natural language processing technology to identify the most frequently asked questions from customers, including topics such as payment, transportation, arrival and departure times, date changes, cancellation requests, parking information, extra bed requests, pet policies, Wi-Fi and internet availability, as well as a variety of greetings and thank-you messages.

Booking.com is currently training the model to refine the current number of questions it can manage into more than 90 specific subtopics that can be quickly identified and handled appropriately. The chatbot can currently respond to 30 per cent of customers’ stay-related questions automatically in less than five minutes. If Booking Assistant has identified a question it can’t solve on its own, depending on the nature of the query, it pulls in support from either the Booking.com customer service team or the property, adding their response directly into the conversation.

“For us, AI is not about replacing human interaction, but is instead a vehicle to facilitate an even more personalised, instantaneously gratifying and frictionless travel experience for consumers. As we operate in an industry that is incredibly personal, emotional and complex, maintaining the right balance between genuine human interaction and efficient automation is something we’re always trying to fine-tune and optimise throughout every stage of the consumer journey, including with the Booking Assistant,” said James Waters, global director, customer service, Booking.com.

According to a recent research conducted by Booking.com with 19,000 travellers in 26 countries, 50 per cent of consumers don’t mind if they deal with a real person or a computer, so long as their questions are answered. Coupled with Booking.com data that 80 per cent of customers prefer to self-serve in order to get the information that they need, the Booking Assistant is filling a need for travellers to get the quick support they require without having to engage with more traditional customer service channels, such as phone or email. In addition, as a hybrid chatbot experience, human back-up is always available within the interface itself with no need to reach out via alternate channels for assistance.

Booking Assistant has been adapted to operate natively within the iOS and Android versions of the Booking.com app, as well as via Facebook Messenger. It can also be accessed via the Booking.com website on desktop, mobile or tablet.