Goibibo has announced a new integration with WhatsApp where it will allow its customers to book their desired flight seat on the social messaging platform. The partnership is the first significant integration of bot framework with WhatsApp for Business feature announced last year.
Goibibo says only few users really enter the multi-step process currently involved to reserve seats once the flight is booked. On Goibibo, users need to go through their bookings under the ‘My Bookings’ section and then reserve seats. With the WhatsApp integration, the service provider is further enhancing the overall experience by adopting the conversational bot experience.
Goibibo is leveraging WhatsApp for Business platform to confirm user bookings including provision of ticket confirmations and a PDF copy of their tickets. The integration is similar to BookMyShow, which adopted the same platform to send out ticket bookings via WhatsApp instead of text message. To recall, WhatsApp had opened up its platform to allow businesses to engage with their customers and provide after sales support through messaging in late 2017.
Goibibo now allows its users to select their desired seats by replying to the its bot on WhatsApp. In order to make the experience effective, Goibibo is leveraging heart emojis to show seat layouts. It says the reason behind using the heart emojis is that it is the only emoji with six color options. Once the customer finds a free seat they can simply reply with their desired seat number and Goibibo books and confirms that seat for them. In case, the customer selects a premium seat, the bot sends a payment link and the seat is confirmed after processing the payment.
While it sounds simpler than the existing process of reserving seats on the web, Goibibo notes that its designers did face challenges. It says the initial problems were related to showing the entire layout on screen without any redirections and separate the different categories of paid seats. It also had challenges limiting the number of user inputs to as low as a single word reply. The most challenging scenario was to make a scalable design according to flight model with Airbus A380 having a wider layout than A320.
In a statement, Goibibo claims that it saw seat booking increase by 5X in just first few days of the feature being rolled out to its customers. The feature is currently supported on IndiGo bookings and will be live across all major domestic and international airlines soon.
Facebook, the social media giant, acquired WhatsApp for record $19 billion in 2014. However, it is yet to find a business model to monetize the strength of over a billion users. With WhatsApp for Business, it seems to be preparing to kill text messaging and enable a business/revenue model. Goibibo’s integration can easily stake claim for being the most effective and innovative yet seen on the platform.