Aiming to improve the customer experience within travel services, Sabre Corporation has begun the development of an AI-powered chatbot built upon Microsoft Bot Framework and Microsoft Cognitive Services.
Part of Microsoft's intelligent language services umbrella, Sabre is utilising these platforms to address how an AI understands what an individual needs and what information to share, a key challenge in human-computer interactions.
In particular, Sabre will leverage the Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS), part of Microsoft Cognitive Services, to devise language models that will be used by the bot to understand different commands.
Mark McSpadden, VP of emerging technology and products of Sabre Corporation, said: "Travellers want technology to deliver a more seamless experience, especially when managing on-the-go changes and disruptions.
"Together with Microsoft and our agency partners, we are exploring how AI and chat bots can provide travellers with the self-service solutions they want for routine requests while helping travel agencies provide personal service for more complex needs."
As part of the pilot project, Sabre will test the chatbot with two travel agencies, which the global technology provider collaborates closely with. Both Travel Solutions International USA (TSI USA) and Casto Travel will put a white-label version of the chatbot to the test via Facebook Messenger.
During the evaluation period, Sabre will monitor travellers' preferences in terms of the frequency of engagement with the chatbot versus interaction with a live agent. Additionally, it is hoped that the pilot will also shed light on the typical issues faced with chatbots, revealing potential ways in solving these challenges.
Claire LeBuhn, vice president, support services at TSI USA, commented: "TSI is committed to evaluating new touchpoints 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."