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Thomson trials industry first virtual assistant tool for holiday bookings

Thomson is launching an innovative way for customers to find inspiration for their holidays by trialling a travel search tool using IBM Watson’s technology.

Customers will be able to interact with a simple chat interface to receive real-time responses, giving them helpful suggestions of exciting holiday destinations and experiences.

The UK-based travel operator is trialling the new tool after research found that 77% of people thought a virtual agent would prove useful whilst searching for a holiday.

Currently in its beta phase, the chat interface will continue to be developed using customer feedback and machine learning over time.

The tool allows for customers to start a simple and personalised search, providing a different way of finding the right type of holiday.

One of the big draws for using IBM Watson’s technology is that it is designed to learn from every customer interaction, become smarter over time and also provide more accurate responses.

Jeremy Osborne, Director of Strategic Innovation, TUI – who own Thomson – said: “We wanted to test whether a conversational search experience would resonate with our customers as a new, fun and easy way to find their ideal holiday.”

By utilising IBM Watson’s technology, Thomson are able to offer customers an interactive service that gives them personalised ideas for their next holiday.

Mr Osborne explained that the firm is keen to learn how customers react and interact with the new experience and to find out how they feel it compared with other ways of shortlisting potential holiday options.

The announcement of the virtual assistant comes after Thomson outlined plans to revolutionise the way they inspire customers to book holidays in store and online.

By 2020 the holiday brand plans to move away from brochures to provide a digital experience for every customer will be investing in more personalised, inspirational content.

If you’re thinking of travelling abroad this year, be sure to organise your specialist travel insurance in advance.

Date Created: 25 November 2016

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