Chatbots might be set to take over the future of travel, but for now, they still redirect us to airline website for manual bookings — which is a bit of a bummer.
That’s set to change. Scoot, a Singapore-based budget carrier, launched Asia’s first transactional chatbot last week, which lets customers book and pay for flights via credit card right on Facebook Messenger.
According to a spokesperson, 14 bookings have already been made to places like Australia, China and Malaysia, mostly by customers aged 40 to 50 years old. The flights were booked for family groups and took about seven minutes to complete — not bad considering how long a manual booking takes.
Scoot is already priming the bot, named MARVIE (short for “Most Awesome and Resourceful Virtual Intern Ever”), to accept promo codes, make booking changes and allow seat selection in the future. More payment modes are also in the works.
Ever since MARVIE landed on Facebook, the airline has seen its Messenger queries more than triple from 50 to over 1,750 a day.
Other airlines that allow Messenger bookings via chatbot are Iceland Air and Transavia, while Lufthansa’s bot helps passengers rebook during cancelled or missed flights only. Transavia also announced it’s working to let customers book flights over Whatsapp.