Next Gen Travel Sales? It’s All About The APIs!

By Hélène Dubos | Technology

Aug 08

The rate of change in how consumers purchase flights is breathtaking. From established multimodal sites like Expedia through to niche startups with apps, and even artificial intelligence chat bots on Facebook Messenger, the marketing landscape for airlines is changing rapidly.

For airlines who are running large-scale, legacy IT systems – often with silos of data around the organization – taking advantage of these agile solutions is crucial.

Many airlines will sense that they have the required data … but the issue is accessing it and sharing it with partners and suppliers in the required format, in realtime.

ConztanzONE drives APIs from your current IT systems.

Travel industry website Skift recently published a story about some of the innovative tech companies that airlines can work with. We’ve gathered the links below for exciting potential partners like Travelaer, Switchfly, Points, AirBlackBox and DCS Plus.

But airline marketing and IT teams might miss opportunities for partnering with companies like these because they think their current technology won’t be easily compatible, or because they imagine the implementation will be lengthy, expensive and complex.

Conztanz has the solution. ConztanzONE is a cloud-based ‘agility platform’ which enables airlines to extract any data, from any source or silo, in real time to feed business applications with requested info.

As a cloud-based solution, ConztanzONE has infinitely flexible ‘virtual connectors’ which can connect with any system and can easily share the data to your partner technology as required.

In short, ConztanzONE can act as an ‘API machine’ that shares your current data in real-time with partner technologies.

Icelandair launches chatbot flight bookings through Facebook Messenger.

Chatbots or ‘conversational commerce’ is an exciting new area for airline marketers. Acting like a helpdesk, a chatbot can take potential customers through their questions, show them flight options and, ultimately, process their order.

Simplistic chatbots will be programmed to take the customer through a fairly rigid Yes/No ‘rules based’ flowchart, but more advanced systems will employ AI artificial intelligence or NLP neuro linguistic programming to give customers a more realistic experience. In some cases, people don’t even realize they are talking to a machine because the answers to their fuzzy questions are so accurate.

But whether they are Flowchart-, AI- or NLP-based, all chatbots need real time data in order to perform. Random questions like “What’s the best connection to France?”, “How long from Orly airport to Paris city center?” and “When is the last flight?” need smart interpretation and instant access to multiple databases. Better still when the chatbot asks “Do you want to add the flight ticket to your train ticket?”.

That’s the type of transaction which ConztanzONE can enable from the current technology you and your partners use.

Working with French startup Travelear (link below), Icelandair has been has early adopter of Facebook Messenger chatbot technology. Here’s what their press release said:

The Facebook Messenger Stopover Bot is the newest example of the rising trend in Conversational Commerce. Available 24/7, the new bot makes it easier than ever to book an Icelandair Stopover by bringing the point of sale directly to the customer, allowing passengers to book flights directly from Facebook Messenger.

The Stopover Bot is also an efficient customer service tool that can, together with booking and search functionality, answer commonly asked questions with quick, content rich answers combining text, photos and even video.

Guðmundur Óskarsson, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Icelandair comments “We want to constantly improve the travel eco system for consumers, starting from the very beginning of their booking experience. Placing Icelandair ahead of the game and making flight bookings available through Facebook Messenger, marks the commitment to our customers. We know what platforms our customers use and want to embrace new ways to communicate and offer valuable interactions with them in that space. Through this thinking we hope to position ourselves as more than just an airline but as a software company and the launch of the Stopover Bot is another step towards our aim of customers being able to book a flight anywhere at any time.”

Useful primer about chatbots.