Sabre’s AI chatbot to service agents

Travel technology leader, Sabre Corporation, is in the process of developing an artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbot that would help travel agencies serve travellers better and faster by fulfilling their most common service and support requests with smart technology.

Sabre Corporation recently announced that it is working towards developing an artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbot which will help the travel professionals to let all their customers’ simple queries and requests be answered by technology and keep the bigger and complex issues of their customers for themselves. Sabre will initially test the chatbot with two travel agencies and the travellers they serve.

Mark McSpadden, Vice President – Emerging Technology and Products, Sabre Corporation, says, “Travellers want technology to deliver a more seamless experience, especially when managing on-the-go changes and disruptions. So, together with Microsoft and our agency partners, we are exploring how AI and chatbots can provide travellers with the self-service solutions they want for routine requests while helping travel agencies provide personal service to customers for more complex needs.”

One of the key challenges in human-computer interactions is the ability of computers to understand what people want and find relevant information that connects to their intent. On top of that, travel applications must recognise a plethora of unique terms and phrases that add complexity for industry applications. While developing this chatbot, Sabre is leveraging Microsoft Bot Framework and a selection of Microsoft Cognitive Services, including Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS), which provides simple tools to build conversational language models that allow any application or bot to understand user commands and act accordingly.

“Intelligent technologies, like chatbots, are augmenting the way companies are able to interact with their customers,” says Lili Cheng, Corporate Vice President, AI and Research, Microsoft. “Sabre’s chatbot is another great example of how AI can be applied to help extend business capabilities and improve satisfaction of travellers.”

Two Sabre-connected travel agencies – Dallasbased Travel Solutions International USA and San Francisco-based Casto Travel – will test a white-label version of the chatbot with their travellers, who will access the chatbot via Facebook Messenger. Travellers will use the chatbot for common service and support requests, such as changing an existing flight reservation. The chatbot will divert to a live travel agent if it is unable to fulfil a request. “Travellers are eager to find ways to save time when handling travel logistics,” noted Claire LeBuhn, Vice President, Support Services, TSI USA.

“TSI is committed to evaluating new touch points and communication channels to better serve our corporate customers and their busy employees. We are also interested to explore emerging technologies that can help us improve the efficiency and satisfaction of our travel agents. By handling frequently asked basic support requests, the bot will free up our agents to focus on more complex, value-added interactions with travellers. We look forward to testing the chatbot and gaining a better understanding of how it can drive value for our corporate customers and for TSI.”

Throughout the test, Sabre and its partner travel agencies will evaluate travellers’ preferences pertaining to how frequently they engage the chatbot and when they divert to a live agent. This is not Sabre’s first foray into chatbots. Sabre Hospitality Solutions is also building a chatbot that would allow travellers to shop, book and engage with hoteliers through the most common messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Twitter and SMS.

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