Emirates Vacations Launches Chatbot Display Ads

Travel Marketing Reinvented

Emirates Vacations, in partnership with AI-powered travel recommendation engine WayBlazer, has launched a revolutionary new advertising campaign that combines the best of AI chatbot technology and in-page display ads.

This new campaign personalizes the vacation planning process from start to finish by handing off the reins to a cutting edge chatbot. The chatbot asks trip planning questions to prospective vacationers and offers them travel packages based on their answers, the content on the page where the ad appears, and Emirates Vacations’ inventory.

Emirates Vacations began testing the ads on sites like The New Yorker, Smithsonian, Time, and Lonely Planet in late December. This 30-day trial run resulted in an 87% increase in engagement compared to their regular click-through ads.

According to a report by Digiday,

“Emirates Vacations tested 550,000 impressions for the new chat ad format and compared those to the same number of impressions for its traditional display format. Emirates Vacations wouldn’t share any metrics around engagement for its original display ads, only that it plans on continuing using the enhanced version.”

The chatbot ads currently advertise for four destinations: The Maldives, Bangkok, Milan, and Seychelles. If a user asks the bot where they should go for vacation, it will highlight these four places and provide information related to them. The ads are also placed next to articles that allude to these locations in some way.

After initial engagement, the chatbot can redirect the user to the Emirates Vacations’ website or escalate the conversation to involve a representative. This technology marks a major shift in the way travel agencies target audiences. By using smart tech to personalize the travel experience, a travel company can become more dependable and their customers can leave knowing that their dream vacation was perfectly suited to their preferences.

Asia Pollard, SVP of Emirates Vacations, states,

“We’re committed to understanding what our customers want, and we’re leading the charge in transforming the modern traveler’s shopping experience.”

A Rise in Chatbot Technology

Traditional ads that are static and non-functional have long been condemned by users. These types of ads often result in interference and annoyance. Interactive ads, powered by Chatbot technology, could be the key brands need to engage, instead of annoy, their audiences.

Sephora, H&M, and Disney have all utilized chatbots in their customer service experiences. Sephora offers a color match bot for Messenger that helps users find a Sephora lipstick shade that matches the color in a photo they’ve uploaded.

H&M launched a bot that quizzes customers about their style preferences and then recommends entire outfits that match their tastes. Disney took a more creative approach to chatbot marketing by creating a Zootopia themed, ‘Judy Hopps’ chatbot game. The game gave Facebook Messenger users and Zootopia fans the chance to help Judy Hopps solve crimes. This smart use of movie marketing engaged fans before the film was released back in 2016.

The travel industry is especially suited to using advanced chatbot technology because of the high stakes involved in booking expensive trips. It goes without saying that all customers want a stress-free trip planning experience that ends with excitement and relief instead of apprehension. If more travel companies start adopting this tech, the way we plan our vacations could be changed for the better.

More information on the Emirates Vacations chatbot can be found here.

Discover more about Wayblazer here.

A Brief History of Chatbots

Since the development of ELIZA, the first verifiable and successful use of chatbot technology in 1966, artificial linguistic intelligence has been a subject of intense scientific and cultural fascination. After the development of ELIZA by Joseph Weizenbaum, psychiatrist Kenneth Colby constructed PARRY, a natural language program designed to imitate the behavior and thought processes of a person with paranoid schizophrenia.

People were unable to differentiate between conversations involving PARRY and conversations involving real human participants, thereby passing a variated version of the Turing Test. Colby’s creation was a landmark attempt at understanding mental illness through AI technology.

After PARRY, Chatbots like Jabberwacky, developed in the 1980’s, and Cleverbot, constructed in the late 90’s, started springing up as forms of chatbot entertainment. In 2001, a chatbot called SmartChild was developed and has been marked as the earliest precursor to modern AI assistants like Siri and Alexa. SmartChild could access quick data and engage in fun conversation. In 2006, IBM Watson was developed. In 2010, Siri made her debut, followed by Google Now in 2012 and Amazon’s Alexa in 2015.

Chatbot technology has evolved rapidly and we have begun using this tech less as a way to kill time online and more as a functional tool for simplifying daily tasks and getting quick answers to our burning questions.

Amazon Echo is becoming a household normality and chatbot technologies have assumed a customer service role on numerous websites, most recently Emirates Vacations. Chatbots celebrated their 50th birthday in 2016.

When we think about how advanced and commonplace chatbots have become, it’s astonishing that the technology is still so young. It’s undeniable that chatbots will continue to evolve and, if they’re smart, marketers will continue to use them to streamline customer journeys and forge stronger connections with audiences.  

You can learn more about the history of chatbots here


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