Sabre pilots AI chatbot technology for travel agents

Sabre Corporation has undertaken a pilot project to explore how artificial intelligence (AI) can help travel agencies better serve customers through smart technology.

The travel technology company is developing an AI-powered chatbot, leveraging Microsoft Bot Framework and a selection of Microsoft Cognitive Services including Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS).

Two Sabre-connected travel agencies – Dallas-based Travel Solutions International USA and San Francisco-based Casto Travel – will test a white-label version of the chatbot with travellers via Facebook Messenger.

The bot is meant to assist customers with common service and support requests, such as changing an existing flight reservation, and divert customers to a live travel agent for requests it cannot fulfil.

Such emerging technology could “provide travellers with the self-service solutions they want for routine requests while helping travel agencies provide personal service for more complex needs”, said Mark McSpadden, vice president – emerging technology and products of Sabre Corporation.

Throughout the test, Sabre and its partner travel agencies will evaluate travellers’ preferences for how often and when they engage the chatbot and when they are likely to divert to a live agent. The companies expect to gain a better understanding of the best way to engage travellers with chatbots.

Sabre Hospitality Solutions is also building a chatbot prototype that would allow travellers to shop, book and engage with hoteliers through messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and SMS text messaging, as well as voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), Microsoft’s Cortana and Google Home.

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