Chatbots are helping us to better understand tourists and destination management, various experts agreed during the “Chatbots and conversation assistants for Smart Destinations” webinar, organised by the Smart Destinations Network.
“Chatbots are information systems capable of maintaining a natural-sounding conversation with a human being,” explained Ángel Hernández, managing partner of Chatbot Chocolate, a company specialising in the development of chatbots, who worked with SEGITTUR during the Chatbot Tourism Awards competition.
Answering tourists’ questions in a satisfactory manner is fundamental to a chatbot’s training, as it must learn to understand questions to be able to perfect its answers, Hernández stated.
The leader of the Smart Destination initiative in Gran Canaria within the Society for the Economic Promotion of Gran Canaria (SPEGC), Víctor Manual Alvarez, highlighted that “Chatbots improve our understanding of tourists through conversations, as they provide information which is then analysed and used to improve the management of the destination.”
Chelo Sánchez, an expert in rural development in the Valle del Jerte, stated that “Chatbots give tourists immediate responses to their questions, while improving our ability to analyse what visitors want.”
Antonio Bacallardo, an expert from the Art and Culture Tourism Centres of Lanzarote (CACT), emphasised that one of the benefits of chatbots is improved information and analysis to establish a destination’s strategy.
Benito, Taro and Cerecina are the names of the tourism chatbots in Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Valle del Jerte. Their creators all chose to personify their chatbots with a name that makes users feel more comfortable chatting to a machine which answers their questions about the destination they are going to visit or are currently visiting.
What do we ask chatbots?
What to visit, timetables and locations of tourism resources and gastronomy are some of the questions tourist destination chatbots or conversation assistants answer most frequently, the experts noted during the webinar.
Chatbots can be added to websites, mobile apps, messaging systems like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp and other assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant, depending on the needs of the destination and the channel receiving most traffic and requests for information. For tourist destinations, these are normally websites and social networks.
All the experts agreed on the numerous advantages of tourism chatbots, and therefore they have recommended that the Smart Destinations Network destinations begin with something simple to cover the most-requested information for that location.