Technology is affecting change at a pace not know before and things are no different for online travel which has been one of the first sectors world over that has seen the first mass consumer shift from offline modes to online. When we started Goibibo and decided to go after the online travel opportunity, the thought was to leverage Technology in making a transformational impact. At that time, when anyone would search for a flight on MakeMyTrip, Cleartrip or Yatra, they were taken to an intermediate page which would ask consumers to wait till the time they fetch flight details. Goibibo flipped the chase by ensuring a much faster, transparent and reliable experience from search to booking. The idea was to offer differentiation by leveraging the latest technology to provide a reliable and faster product. While the world was on Java and PHP, staying ahead of the curve Goibibo decided to move to GoLang, Python & node. This provided us required agility and tooling. It was small but significant decisions backed by our belief in technology that really helped us come from behind to become an online travel player to reckon with.
As we made a huge transition in the past few years and leapfrogged with Mobile First Philosophy, the compelling technological advancements over the years have been the driving force for innovations at Goibibo. Going forward, a major driver of this change is going to be voice or conversational commerce. It’s still early days in conversational commerce, but we are seeing very encouraging results already as we drive deeper into the Indian market beyond big cities by bringing down barriers through conversational experiences.
We are now thinking AI first to solve multiple customer interactions and product problems. We are making sustained investment in Artificial Intelligence Tech and natural language processing to understand user intent and better personalize services for every customer. Our ChatBots (Gia for Goibibo and Myra for MakeMyTrip) have reduced the number of conversations which require human intervention through our call centres by close to 20 percent. As a platform, that is driven by technology and not just enabled – we are now serving our train customers entirely through chatbots for all post-transaction queries.
Our investment in the technology behind ChatBots is also helping us reach out to our users through WhatsApp – the most popular messaging app in India. By being one of the first Indian companies to partner with WhatsApp in the rollout of their enterprise products in India, we’re now able to reach a vast majority of customers in India who are coming online for the first time. This has also helped us roll out customer delight features like Web CheckIn, Seat Selection, Reviews & Ratings, Food Selection and many more. through a few taps on the chat app.
Focusing on the next wave of internet users in India, we are learning immensely from our all new conversation based app that is fit for budget smartphone users who are experiencing products and services online for the first ever time. The app is only 1.5 megabytes in total size supporting voice-based and chat-based inputs from users in both Hindi and English. From hotel booking, train status updates to status check for wait-listed train bookings – the voice-based interface is helping initiate trust and familiarity with online world through India specific insights. For search and booking aspect – Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are going to be used to provide better-personalized offering to travellers. AI is not only used for internal optimizations such as moderations and pricing, but we are also deploying AI to improve customer experiences such as metadata improvement of photos for easy hotel room selection, flight fare prediction to pick the flight at best rates and a whole lot more.
By learning from past behaviour, voice-navigated systems are starting to anticipate needs and make informed recommendations. Every customer interaction would provide an opportunity to gain more in-depth information, leading to highly personalized recommendations that become more accurate and helpful over time. Just as the transition to mobile changed the online travel sector, machine learning and artificial intelligence are going to lead to radical transformation making travel booking more quick, intuitive and highly curated - fundamentally altering the way you search and book your trip.