Travelling with AI is a lot more human than you think

Published on June 18, 2019

The race for automation is present in almost all tangible industries currently.

Some industries more than others, but the prevalent theory is ‘more efficient ventures will in turn become the most successful market processors’.

That’s why travel is such a predicating medium. In an industry that added a combined $8.8 trillion to the global GDP in 2018, there’s a concrete negative connotation associated with all major airlines today.

Talk to anyone, and it seems that most people have a ‘horror’ story when it comes to flying.

Lost my luggage.  Cancelled my flight. Delays for no reasons.  Overbooked my flight.

These are all too common in our world, and beg to question how this industry got to where it is currently – one in which 45% of all flyers experience some sort of disruption on their last flight.

But as with any industry , where there is discontent comes opportunity. And in our society today, ease of use through comfortable channels has become that opportunity in the travel tech market specifically.

In China, most travel is purchased through WeChat – which is China’s Facebook equivalent.  At a click of a button – through the use of an AI chatbot – travellers can purchase flights and hotels without venturing away from their main social platform.

In North America for comparison, Skyscanner was one of the first major players in the chatbot industry for travel.  As a first mover within the market, Skyscanner in 2016 was purchased by Ctrip for an astonishing $1.74 billion – a move which set the market value precedent for such IP and tech.  Mezi – another player in the chatbot travel industry – was purchased by American Express in the past year for their payment framework system.

While these companies created infrastructure for such a chatbot via independent apps, solving the ease of use issue has always been the operandi for these ventures.  And that is where Eddy Travels hopes to solve these issues.

Eddy Travels, a Canadian AI chatbot service has believed to solve the ease of use issue – by integrating its system into all major messaging apps.  Creating a system that can easily integrate into Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack, and other messaging apps, Eddy Travels hopes to become a major player within an always-evolving industry.

I spoke to the co-founder and CEO of Eddy Travels – Edmundas Balčikonis– about his venture; and certain positive aspects that have led him to his success today.  Here are three of the more pertinent topics touched upon in our discussion.

Ageism in the market

“To me, chat apps are not only becoming the most important communication apps globally – but especially for young people.”

Being a millennial, sometimes we don’t entertain the notion about tech usage for our parents & grandparents generations as much as we should.  Something as easy as using a chatbot on messenger, could be tough to grasp for someone who didn’t grow up in a tech-infused world.

As Ed said in our talk, “Younger people don’t really like calling, or e-mailing as it feels like work [to them].  They stay in touch with friends and family primarily through chat apps.”

People have fatigued with App usage

“If you look at today’s app usage, most people only use between 6-8 apps that they use at most.  Compared to chatbots, in which people are very open to trying and using it.”

Edmundas was right on this fact, as it’s been proven that app fatigue is a real thing.  comScore, a research analytics firm in App management, found that 85% of app users spend most of their time using five apps. Something which has led to the rise of chatbot usage, where 55% of users have reported positive experiences using the system.

Upsell in all ways possible, so your user actually uses it

“If your user doesn’t use it, it doesn’t matter how good [the technology] is. Technology is not enough.”

This was a real intriguing point from Ed, which is very prevalent in today’s tech community.  Usually from those within the development-side, sometimes the micro nature of building in a venture can take a capital-first perspective.  In more applicable terms, the tech ends up being the be-all end-all; which can lead to very human problems, such as: ease of use issues, and reluctant developers making products more user-friendly.

Dan Connerty is a Columnist at Grit Daily. Based in downtown Toronto, He is the Senior Associate of Syrja & Associates Private Wealth Management, and Principal Director of Baseball Development Group – Canada’s top baseball training facility. From his wealth management role, Dan earned major media attention for his work, being featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, and Fit Small Business. Outside of his professions, Dan is a professional baseball player in the Intercounty Baseball League (Canada), where he plays for the Hamilton Cardinals.

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