An Indian-based chatbot specialist, which has received funding from a US-based incubator, has partnered with a Spanish-listed travel tech firm in a trial focussed on travel agents in Thailand using a messaging platform developed in Japan which is owned by a South Korean internet giant.
The chatbot specialist is Mumbai-based GoHero.ai, which was the first Indian company to receive financial support from Travel StartUps Incubator. GoHero is also a member of the Amadeus Next community.
The pair have linked up to create @flightbot, which will operate on the LINE platform. LINE was developed and launched in Japan and is owned by South Korea's Naver Corporation. Its New York IPO in 2016 was one of the biggest of the year.
The bot will interact with clients of Amadeus-enabled travel agents. Initially the bot will respond automatically to queries related to "air travel bookings, departure city and destination, and flights with the best prices" and will work in either English or Thai.
Of note in the comment from Simon Akeroyd, vice president, corporate strategy and business development, Amadeus Asia Pacific, is the transactional capabilities of @flightbot.
"Travelers using @flightbot will gain direct access to Amadeus’ global content and technology via Amadeus-connected travel agencies with just the touch of a button, including a wide range of available flights and options to choose from. This makes it easy and convenient for travelers to search and purchase flights whenever inspiration for travel strikes.”
The idea is to test the bot in Thailand before rolling it out across Asia.
Aside from its credentials as an indicator of how global travel tech has become, the tie-up shows that bots can be transactional, that Facebook Messenger is not the only game in town, the travel-tech-behemoths-formerly-known-as-GDSs are committed to giving travel agents access to cutting edge tools and that Asia Pacific is stealing a march when it comes to developing tools for messaging platforms.