Not using chat in your business? You're losing customers without even knowing it

A whiteboard session to learn about travellers, good and bad chat, and virtual assistants.
James Donald
February 22, 2019

This article is a transript of this video....

Today we’re talking about virtual assistants for tourism businesses.  Believe it or not, they can help increase your direct bookings.  How?  Let’s first learn about tourism customers.....

Facts about travellers:

1.     Travellers want answers to their questions immediately

Travellers have got many things to choose from.  When they're planning they’re trying to work out if the activity is right for them, if they can fit it in their schedule, logistics of getting there, duration, and taking the right things with them.  Once they’ve decided on doing something they need to work out to book!  It’s not easy to do and even the best websites and self service booking systems, people need help. To get that help they need to ask questions. If they can't get answers within minutes they typically find something else to do, their mind has moved on. So immediate answers are really important to get them over the line to decide on doing something.


 2.     If travellers have questions they’re uncertain and not going to book until they're answered.


If you're not answering travellers' questions, they're not going to book.

 That’s easy then - give immediate answers.  Here are some examples of common questions which clearly need answers before they committ:  

  “can my kids come”, 

  “do I need to be able to swim”, 

  “I’ve got glasses, is that ok”, 

  “can you pick me up from Hilton Hotel?”, 

  … and many more


3.     Chat is now the most popular form of communication

Travellers are mobile and chat is the most used form of communication, there are many more messages sent in the world than emails, even including spam!  Young travellers are especially more likely to prefer chat to communicate.  Why? They can chat in meetings, on the bus, in a noisy bar. It’s also cheap, it doesn’t cost an international roaming call. All those businesses promoting a 0800 freephone number are not appealing to these customers, in fact foreigners can’t even call them. 

Chat is the right way to engage these customers when they have questions.

Good and bad ways to chat:

So…. you’re thinking of putting chat on your website, but there are good ways and bad ways to offer chat.


Good:  If your chat widget says “We’re online now, please chat to us!”

Bad:  If your chat widget says “We’re not online right now” or “please leave your email to start a chat”.  Both of these are indicators there’s no one on the other side and there is no point starting a chat.  Travellers know the difference, they’re not fooled.

Image: If you're asking for an email in order to start a chat, you're missing out on 180% more questions

Let’s look at the numbers. The ideal case is you’ve got staff online and no email is required to chat, just type a message. Even in this case if someone doesn’t get an immediate answer we’ve consistently seen only 35% people leave their email when asked, so you can get back to them. That means those people wanted immediate answers, they couldn't wait.

Therefore, if you’re putting up an email obstacle or saying you’re offline then you’re seeing a small fraction of the customers who were literally on your website and would have chatted with you.  You’re missing out on a lot of potential customers. In fact, you could get 180% more chats, and therefore ability to influence those people to book with you.

How does a virtual assistant help?

Virtual assistants can answer questions immediately, if trained and built well.  They’re not going to answer 100% of questions but they’ll answer a lot.  Each business gets around 20 commonly asked questions – maybe people haven’t read the website, they’re looking for extra re-assurance, or maybe they just didn’t understand something.  The chat is another way to engage and ask a question. The virtual assistant is there to provide answers, or acknowledge someone when it doesn't know and then gets the details of that person for you to respond later.

Our experience is 35 – 65% success rate at answering questions immediately, depending on complexity of the business.

The benefits of a virtual assistant:

If each of those conversations takes:

5 minutes staff time,

a potential $200 booking,

and you maybe 5 chats per day

then even in the low case of 35% success rate responding immediately then 50conversations a month get immediate answers which equates to:

over 3hours of staff time saved

$12,000 influenced sales in that month.  

That is a great return on investment!  And it’s from existing website traffic, no extra marketing spend.

Why choose Yonder's virtual assistant?

Yonder builds tourism specific virtual assistants, it’s the sole thing we focus on.  We have built unique AI technology which means tourism businesses can be up and running quickly. Our AI is based on hundreds of thousands of conversations, which one tourism business by itself could never achieve.  That means we can deliver best in class results. Let us show you a demo.


I hope I’ve helped you today to understand a bit more about chat, virtual assistants, andhow Yonder can help.

It was great to have you join me, please join for another whiteboard session as I try to break down how this awesome technology can help your business.

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