Getting closer to customers through chat and virtual reality

Travel agents need to look to new technologies, such as chat services and virtual reality, to meet the needs of customers.

The WTM Global Trends Report, put together with Euromonitor International, reveals websites and mobile applications are no longer enough and agents must join up their physical and digital presence.

The study talks about the “physital” economy with Euromonitor’s head of travel Caroline Bremner saying that agents are four years behind if they think they’re meeting a travellers requirements with a website and app.

The report suggests agents might use virtual reality to bridge the gap between visiting a high street agent and what travellers expect.

According to the report offline agents currently have a share of about 54% which will drop to about 48% by 2020.

Some travel brands, including TUI and Thomas Cook, have already trialled various virtual reality concepts to highlight destinations and resorts.

The study points to brands such as and Expedia which have developed chatbots and suggests agents might also use similar services to interact with customers.

A number of travel companies have developed chat services, predominantly for customer service.

KLM was an early adopter with its service via Facebook Messenger and the airline believes chat services are going to be an important channel for customer interaction going forward.

Icelandair recently claimed a first for a booking service via Messenger.

Voyages SNCF says it has also developed a service using Facebook Messenger which is currently available in France with plans to extend it more widely next year.

During the same session, organised by travel tech consultancy Genesys, Carl Michel, boss of home rental service Veeve, said that these sorts of services incorporating artificial intelligence would become a “huge driver for how we make decisions in the travel industry.”

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