June 30, 2016

Kayak’s Facebook Messenger lets you plan a trip by simply texting

Travel search site Kayak today launched an interactive “chatbot” for Facebook Messenger that will let you search for - and book - travel right inside the app. Or as Kayak puts it, "a travel agent inside your pocket.”

The new tool lets users find flights and hotels using conversational language rather than the old-school method of plugging in dates and sifting through hundreds of results. You can ask the chatbot, conversationally, “Can you suggest a hotel in Chicago for July 4 weekend?” or simply state, “I'd like a flight from Houston to Seattle on August 4, in the morning." While Kayak still pulls thousands of results, it shows Messenger users just a small selection of what its software determines are the best choices.

The idea, says Matthias Keller, the company’s chief scientist, is “to put a travel agent inside your pocket.” Kayak has been tinkering with interactive bots since late last year, having already launched integrations with Amazon Echo and the popular messaging platform Slack. While the Messenger chatbot can handle simpler queries without a hiccup, more complex questions - say, “I'm interested in a beach vacation this August but don't want to spend more than $500 per person” - can leave the program stumped.

Get the full story at Condé Nast Traveler

Read also "Travel embraces bots on messaging platforms" and "Expedia’s first bot is for booking hotels"