Two researchers from the University Institute of Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development of the ULPGC, Santiago Melián González and Jacques Bulchand Gidumal , together with the researcher from the University of La Laguna Desiderio Gutiérrez Taño , have carried out a research work entitled ‘Prediction of the intention of use of chatbots for travel and tourism’.
Chatbots are automated assistants for interaction with consumers, one of the fastest growing technologies in terms of the relationship between companies and their customers . Among the companies that use them are hotels, travel agencies and airlines. Although chatbots are becoming more common, there is no evidence as to what explains their intended use by consumers.
This work proposes and tests a model that aims to predict what makes users decide to use chatbots. The model and its hypotheses are analyzed using the structural equations technique based on partial least squares, from a sample of 476 consumers who had traveled for vacations during the previous year.
The results reveal that the intention to use chatbots is explained by the performance expected from them, the habit of consumers regarding their use, the enjoyment generated by the interaction, the predisposition to use self-service technologies, the behavior of acquaintances, and the fact that chatbots behave like people.
The inconvenience of using this technology (for example, writing the message) inhibits the intention to use them. Finally, the possibility of chatbots replacing workers does not discourage their use by consumers, but rather had an unexpected positive influence on researchers.
Every time a technology acquires social relevance, studies are carried out on what can explain its adoption by users. In the case of chatbots, this is the first research on their intention of use by consumers . The results serve as a guide to the developers of this technology. The researchers conclude that in addition to ensuring that a chatbot is capable of solving the doubts and questions that customers usually ask about a specific service, designers should not neglect the playful component of the interaction. The same can be said about the language you use: it should resemble an interaction with another person.
In addition, chatbots based on written interaction must be able to intuit what consumers want to know without them having to write long texts, hence the importance of this technology being able to learn from the interactions it maintains with consumers. . The fact that they do not seem to care about the displacement that can occur in customer service workers should be taken into account by institutions dedicated to improving the employability of the population and reducing unemployment.
The model was verified in the tourism field, so both tourism companies and Canarian institutions dedicated to tourism promotion and employment can find these results useful. Likewise, it is also of interest to tourism technology developers.
This work has been published in the international magazine ‘ Current Issues in Tourism’ , which is one of the most prestigious magazines in the field of tourism. With an impact index of 3,395 in the Social Science Index of the Journal Citation Report , it is in the first quartile (Q1) of journals dedicated to tourism.
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