Users of Facebook Messenger (or people who go to Skyscanner's Facebook page and send it a private message) can now chat with its bot about flight search.
The UK-based metasearch site is the first price-comparison portal to introduce a chat bot on Messenger. A customer can use natural-language text messages to say where they would like to visit, and when. The bot will fetch prices and itineraries. (Find it at m.me/Skyscanner.)
When a user finds a flight they like, they are directed to Skyscanner's site to book.
Alternatively, users can type "search Everywhere" or "not sure" to see suggestions of possible trips.
The tool isn't perfect. In a test, I typed "PHL to Tokyo", referencing the Philadelphia airport code it had recognized in other chats. But in this interaction it responded, "You're going to Philadelphia." Wrong.
Speed of the chat bot was also not necessarily any improvement over using the metasearch website or app directly.
But chat is where it's at in travel. In general the natural-language format was more appealing than dealing with a traditional booking wizard on a tiny mobile device. Expect more integrations like this to come.
Earlier: Skyscanner to provide voice flight search for Amazon Echo