A woman works in an airport while awaiting her flight

PopcornApps case study

PopcornApps uses Microsoft Azure to build an AI solution for airlines

Customer engagement strategy in the air travel industry

Airlines need a way to cater to travelers who aren’t interested in signing up for an airline's mobile app.

An artificial intelligence solution based on Microsoft Azure

PopcornApps created an airline-specific conversational AI template built on Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Bot Framework.

Broadening airline reach and reducing expenses

With the AI solution, airlines can offer customers more choices, conduct targeted campaigns, and save money on call center costs.

A chatbot for travelers and airport staff

PopcornApps is a consulting and systems integration firm headquartered in Fremont, California, with offices in London and Hyderabad, India. PopcornApps has been a Microsoft gold partner for the past two years and is a member of the AI Inner Circle program. The company’s Conversational AI Template for Airlines addresses all touchpoints in the user experience through an innovative, versatile, and comprehensive chatbot template. Integrated with global distribution systems Amadeus and Sabre, the chatbot provides structured and natural language processing (NLP) flow for people making travel arrangements. It also can automate tasks for gate agents and ground staff at the airport.

The chatbot employs NLP through the Microsoft Language Understanding (LUIS) application programming interface and enhances several features through the use of Azure Machine Learning and Azure Cognitive Services. These features include spell check, maps, and location; vision for scanning luggage bar codes; and validation of airport codes that are also common words, such as “Nice,” when referring to the city in France.

The chatbot can be deployed on Facebook Messenger, websites, and Skype, and it can integrate directly into a mobile app. The rich set of NLP commands covers more than 50 intents and about 1,000 utterances, creating a very flexible natural language engine. Microsoft Bot Framework and LUIS provide a great degree of tolerance for mistyped or incorrectly worded sentences.

Customer behavior trends and the focus on self-service

According to a 2017 survey by air transport communications company SITA, almost 90 percent of customers are using self-service channels to search for and book flights. With its chatbot solution, PopcornApps makes it easy and risk-free for an airline to use the messaging channel and leverage this trend. At the same time, the chatbot allows airlines to reach users who are not interested in downloading and signing up for yet another mobile app. To customize the service, PopcornApps can easily incorporate an airline’s branding and persona (tone of voice).

Because the chatbot solution is built on Azure, the scalability is enterprise-grade and can handle peak customer volume with no degradation in performance. An airline can use this channel for targeted campaigns to enhance revenue and provide timely service updates to reduce call center costs. Analysis by PopcornApps indicates that a midsize airline can save between 5 percent and 14 percent in call center costs by providing a rich customer service functionality on the messaging channel.

“Our Conversational AI Template for Airlines leverages all that Microsoft tools like Bot Framework, LUIS, and Bing cognitive services have to offer. It will help increase traveler satisfaction and drive greater productivity among customer service and airport staff.”

—Samvit Raina, CEO, PopcornApps

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