Sabre is testing an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot with two corporate travel agencies, enabling their customers to interface with the bot for common service and support requests.

Sabre's chatbot leverages Microsoft Bot Framework and Microsoft Cognitive Services, including its Language Understanding Intelligent Service, which provides the tools to enable the bot to understand commands about travel and perform the correct functions.

Two agencies are testing a white-labeled version of the chatbot: Travel Solutions International USA in Dallas and Casto Travel in San Francisco. Their travelers can access the bot via Facebook Messenger and use it to complete simple tasks, like changing an existing flight reservation.

If the chatbot cannot fulfill the request, the request is handled by a travel agent.

"By handling frequently asked basic support requests, the bot will free up our agents to focus on more complex, value-added interactions with travelers," said Claire LeBuhn, vice president of support services at Travel Solutions International.

Throughout the testing period, the agencies and Sabre will evaluate when and how often travelers use the bot. Sabre also said it will track when travelers are likely to need an agent's assistance.

"Travelers want technology to deliver a more seamless experience, especially when managing on-the-go changes and disruptions," said Mark McSpadden, Sabre's vice president of emerging technology and products. "Together with Microsoft and our agency partners, we are exploring how AI and chatbots can provide travelers with the self-service solutions they want for routine requests while helping travel agencies provide personal service for more complex needs."

Sabre Hospitality Solutions is also building a chatbot prototype for its hotel clients. It would enable hotels' customers to shop, book and engage through messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Twitter as well as voice assistants like the Amazon Echo.

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