Very slowly, British travellers start to engage with bots

A Kayak.co.uk study into the British traveller reveals some long-term grains of optimism when it comes to bots despite the fact that, presently, more than half the country hasn’t heard about them.

The questions about bots revealed some positive growth over the past year, hardly a surprise since bots only came of age last May when Facebook opened its Messenger platform.

The survey found that 2% of Brits describe themselves as “regular users” of bots with a further 6% having used one in the past month. Another 6% said they have used a bot within the past year.

The sample was asked about its bot use a year ago, and 3% said they were regular users then. Kayak, rather bullishly, suggests that “with double that number having used a chatbot in the last four weeks, it seems that that this is a technology growing in popularity.”

It also notes that “one only needs to look at the rise of online travel agents and search engines to see how quickly users can adapt to new travel technology”.

But the majority of Brits – 57% – have never heard of chatbots with 31% aware of them without knowing exactly what they are. Brits come out better than Germans in terms of bot familiarity, worse than Russians.

But the study does offer some specifics into what people who use bots are doing with them. If the underlying narrative around bots and emerging tech is playing the long game, there are some bright spots. One in ten Brits who use bots do so for travel-related queries – defined by the sample as researching, booking or asking a question about a holiday. Nearly half (49%) are using bots for non-travel related customer service queries, which means this cohort has the potential to be converted into using bots for travel services.

And while travel booking bots are an even smaller niche, 28% are using bots for online shopping. One of the arguments used in the early days of ecommerce was that small ticket online purchases paved the way for higher ticket purchases such as travel. Perhaps the same argument works here.

Throw in the inevitable demographic bias – young people are more aware of bots than the old folk – and the long game argument comes to the fore again. The gender bias however is intriguing – British men are more aware of bots than women, although more women use bots for travel-related reasons.

Click here to read the release on Kayak.co.uk’s blog, which includes a link to the report in full.

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Martin Cowen

About the Writer :: Martin Cowen

Martin Cowen is contributing editor for Tnooz and is based in the UK. Besides reporting and editing, he also oversees our sponsored content initiative and works directly with clients to produce articles and reports.

For the past several years he has worked as a freelance writer, specialising in B2B distribution and technology.

Before freelancing, from 2000-2008, he was launch editor for e-tid.com, the first online-only B2B daily news service for the UK travel sector.

 

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