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Booking.com anticipates mobile users’ purchase intent with AI-driven experience

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July 15, 2016

Mobile booking and AI are becoming more intertwined

Mobile booking and AI are becoming more intertwined

Booking.com is the latest brand to marry artificial intelligence with mobile, enabling its application users to receive instant booking access to a destination’s attractions and venues through a single QR code and offering personalized experiences based on previous travel preferences.

The travel service’s new Booking Experiences tool is currently undergoing a pilot in Amsterdam, with functionality for other international markets set to go live later this summer. The mobile-led platform leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence technology to predict users’ travel intent and provide a customized experience with streamlined payment options and priority queueing.

“Businesses need to learn how to service thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people as individuals, not as segmented cohorts of personas,” said Michael Becker, managing partner at mCordis. “They must also learn to be of service on the individual’s terms, by considering the individual’s explicit and implicit interests, intent preferences and more.

“Artificial intelligence, a brand of computer science that is focused on helping computers demonstrate intelligent behavior, understands intent and services the individual in real-time,” he said. “Machine learning, a sub-branch of artificial intelligence, helps the brand dynamically service the connected individual by helping the brand to learn, over billions of interactions, and fill in the data and insight gaps that may exist in an individual’s profile.

“AI and machine learning are both fundamental capabilities and competencies that must be developed to become connected marketers, connected businesses and to serve the connected individual. The future of nearly every business depends on the ability to integrate these capabilities into its efforts to serve the connected individual.”

Frictionless in-destination experiences
Booking.com sought to integrate the latest technologies into its newest product, which aims to personalize travelers’ experiences and anticipate their purchase intent based on previous preferences.

The Booking Experiences feature is currently live within the Booking.com iOS and Android apps for Amsterdam vacationers. Pilot experiences for Dubai, London and Paris will roll out at the end of July, while the New York City version will be released this fall.

Booking Experiences does not rely on third-party data or Web sites, and is managed entirely through Booking.com’s apps. Consumers staying in one of the pilot cities will receive booking access to all participating attractions, activities and venues in that destination with a single QR code.

This eliminates the need for individuals to make advance bookings or stand in line to purchase tickets. Instead, Booking.com users can show up to the venue, scan the QR code and enjoy the activity.

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The Booking Experiences feature

The QR code is linked to users’ credit card of choice, making the payment process as seamless as possible.

Individuals wanting to take advantage of Booking Experiences can view a comprehensive list of participating attractions and venues for their vacation destination prior to arriving, or choose to explore it while on-the-go.

Travelers will only be charged for the activities they choose to experience. This enables them to freely change their itineraries or make spur-of-the-moment plans to attend a show or exhibit while knowing that a spot will always be reserved for them.

Booking.com has been steadily revamping its mobile platforms in the past few months with a slew of new features.

It recently replaced outdated email communication methods with a streamlined mobile chat within its app, allowing users to submit inquiries and book travel accommodations (see story).

Several months ago, the service revamped search on its mobile and digital properties so that users can find travel destinations that fit their passions, supporting the discovery of new locations (see story).

Checking in predictive analytics
During the creation process for the new mobile feature, Booking.com considered insights from millions of customers regarding their likes and dislikes about specific destinations and experiences.

The brand combines this data with an individual’s previous travel preferences, his or her current location and third-party information stemming from local attractions, such as current wait times at a nearby museum.

This allows Booking Experiences to learn more information about users over time and consequently provide more personalized, timely and relevant suggestions to enhance their in-destination experiences and drive sales.

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Last-minute travelers can enjoy having reserved spots at local attractions with Booking Experiences

Artificial intelligence is integrating itself more heavily into the hospitality industry, suggesting that consumers may see a plethora of AI-driven experiences pop up as the year progresses.

For example, DMI International has joined forces with a travel distribution technology company to implement natural language processing into a chatbot that leverages IBM Watson’s platform to respond to users’ hotel search requests (see story).

“Relevance is, and always has been, a key component to sales and execution success, operational efficiency, profitability and customer satisfaction,” Mr. Becker said. “If you pitch me something that has no relevance to me at all, all that has been accomplished, outside of some residual branding effect, is wasted time, money and opportunity for both the marketer and the individual.

“According to Julie Ask at Forrester, in the U.S. alone, there are 30 billion mobile moments a day that can be capitalized on to serve the individual,” he said. “To capitalize on these moments, a brand must first understand an individual’s intent.

“Once the brand has understanding, it can connect, remove friction and service the individual. Booking.com is demonstrating a keen understanding of this and the core principles of The Connected Marketer. This is very exciting to see.”

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Alex Samuely is staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at alex@mobilemarketer.com.

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