Virtual Travel Guide Maya.

Implementing Whatsapp Сhatbot by Kerala DMO.

An interesting experiment on the introduction of smart tourism technologies and improvement of communications with tourists was conducted by the tourism authorities in the state of Kerala, India. This state is popular among tourists due to its unique historical and cultural attractions, picturesque nature and excellent climate. Since a lot of foreigners visit or want to visit the state, they usually have a lot of standard questions about vaccinations, how to get there, what to see, etc. Naturally, tourists prefer to receive first-hand information from the Department of Tourism, because such information is the most relevant.

And there is a problem. Apparently, it is impossible to maintain a huge number of telephone operators. As a solution to this problem, the tourism authorities have launched a WhatsApp chatbot that can help tourists before and during their trip. Many tourism workers do not understand what a chatbot is, how it works and why it is needed, so we decided to show this positive Kerala smart tourism case in detail.

Just add the number +917510512345 to your contacts and start a chat, or follow the link , or scan the QR code:

Type Hi in the opened chat window to launch the bot:

As you can see, there are options such as opening the menu using the Explore Kerala button, or, for the most impatient ones, replying to the bot with a message containing the topic of interest.

We immediately tried to check word recognition and responded to the bot with the phrase Travel to Kerala. The bot recognized this message and displayed how to get there.

Further, when you click the Select From Options button, the bot prompts you to select the type of transport.

We selected By Air, but the bot did not have information. Luckily, there was a very important option for any chatbot – switching to a person who can help:

If you select Continue, then you will return to the beginning of the chat, but if you select Chat with us, then you will be answered by a person who can immediately answer your questions.

In general, the ability to intercept a chat by a person is very important in order not to lose potential tourists, because a chatbot cannot know absolutely everything and it is impossible to predict in advance all the questions that tourists may ask. It should be noted that when developing a chatbot, the most difficult and important thing is a competent script, anticipating the questions of tourists and providing the bot with information relevant to these questions and keeping this information always up to date. In addition to phrase recognition, chatbots usually implement a certain menu with a standard set of information.

In this case, we will not respond to the bot’s greeting, but immediately select Explore Kerala.

After tapping the button, we saw a window with a choice of the most common topics. For example, let’s choose the Covid-19 Updates, since the Internet often contains outdated and incorrect information, and it is best to get it first hand. A page with general information and a menu has opened:

We selected International Travel and received not only detailed information, but also the latest government document regarding Covid rules:

Other topic sections work similarly.

As you can see, a chatbot is a kind of information storage, access to which is built on a system of multi-level menus. In other words, the chatbot selects the necessary information based on the requests and topics of the tourist and gives him this information through the chat. This saves both the time of DMO operators and the time of tourists.

How is it useful for smart tourists? Often the answer to the simplest question has to be searched for a long time on the Internet, while the DMO tourist office, the most informed about the rules and other things in the destination, can give an answer immediately without tiring searches. In addition, with the abundance of information on the Internet, you can find unreliable information, while the tourist office provides the most relevant and valid information.

What is good about chats? Even if tourists do not speak English well, they can read the messages without problems, and if necessary, they can translate the message into any language using an online translator, for example, Google Translate. In part, this is a solution to the problem of the language barrier and access to information.

In our opinion, starting a Whatsapp channel with or without a bot will be useful for all tourism offices in the world. Moreover, it will be useful for them in terms of statistics and finding potential customers for the development of destination’s Internet marketing, because chats can be an invaluable source of their own marketing information, and it would be good if all DMOs showed similar concern for their potential customers. Small businesses may be put off by the complexity and cost of developing a chatbot. What’s more, small businesses may well be able to answer all customer inquiries manually, as they don’t have as many inquiries as DMOs. But small businesses can take advantage of the simplified options, namely the auto-responder feature built into Whatsapp for Business, which gives the opportunity to immediately respond and retain potential clients and then start a chat with them. In addition, you can list your products in the Whatsapp catalog so that any customer who starts a chat can get acquainted with the products and services offered.

For a better understanding of how chatbots work, we recommend trying to chat with the Maya chatbot of Kerala and you will acquire skills in obtaining the necessary information, and you may want to visit Kerala – a land of unique culture, history and nature.

Just start Whatsapp chat with +917510512345