Sabre Corporation is developing an AI-powered chatbot which aims to free up travel agents to focus on more complex, value-added interactions with travellers.

The bot is designed to handle frequently-asked basic support and service requests such as changing an existing flight reservation and will be tested by two Sabre-connected travel agencies. If it is unable to fulfil a request, the technology will divert to a live travel agent.

Dallas-based Travel Solutions International USA and San Francisco-based Casto Travel will test run a white-label version of the chatbot, accessible to travellers via Facebook Messenger.

The trial will evaluate travellers’ preferences for how often and when they engage the chatbot and when they are likely to divert to a live agent.

The technology utilises Microsoft Bot Framework and Microsoft Cognitive Services, a set of tools that organisations can use to add intelligent and conversational features to their applications.

“Travellers want technology to deliver a more seamless experience, especially when managing on-the-go changes and disruptions,” said Mark McSpadden, vice president emerging technology and products of Sabre Corporation.

“Together with Microsoft and our agency partners, we are exploring how AI and chatbots can provide travellers with the self-service solutions they want for routine requests while helping travel agencies provide personal service for more complex needs.”

Sabre Hospitality Solutions is also working on a chatbot prototype which would allow travellers to engage with hoteliers through the most common messaging platforms, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Twitter. When it is ready, the company expects to test the prototype with some of its hotel customers.

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