Technology

Gatwick airport launches Facebook chatbot to answer customer questions

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Gatwick airport launches Facebook chatbot to answer customer questions

Gatwick Airport has launched a Facebook Messenger chatbot to answer passenger queries.

The ‘Gatwick chatbot’, referred to as Gail, will provide passengers with access to flight information, flight specific notifications and information on airport shops, restaurants and other facilities before and during a trip.

Passengers can, for instance, type in their destination, select their flight from a list and receive real-time updates on the status of their flight.

Its restaurant integration also allows passengers to ask questions such as ‘which restaurants have vegetarian options?’ and then be presented with a list of eating options.

Gatwick worked in collaboration with the VINCI Airports network throughout the project, including Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport in France, which launched its chatbot in October 2017.

The collaboration helped benchmark what the chatbot could be used for, questions passengers might ask and the value of features such as ‘quick response’. So far, the chatbot understands and answers 80% of the questions it receives and are expected to reach 95% within a year.

Currently, the chatbot is only available in English but the airport plans to offer the service in different languages next year and is being tested on platforms such as WhatsApp and Apple Business.

Abhi Chacko, Gatwick Airport head of innovation, said: “Our passengers are at the core of everything we do and the aim of this AI-enabled chatbot is to make it easy for them to get airport and flight related information.

“We have only just rolled this service out on Facebook Messenger, but we expect that it will become popular and the chatbot will learn rapidly using artificial intelligence as an increasing number of our passengers use it.

“More globally, experience across VINCI Airports’ network of 46 airports in 12 countries demonstrates that well-designed chatbots successfully engage passengers and can satisfy many of their needs.

“We believe there is significant potential for chatbots to facilitate, personalise and enrich each passenger’s end-to-end experience across multiple touchpoints.”

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