Everybody wants to be a travel agent…

The most recent Internet player to dabble in travel following Google,’s recent announcement is Skype.

Microsoft recently announced it will be adding its Cortana virtual assistant to Skype, which means that travellers are encouraged to book their travel or other services through the Skype instant-messaging platform.

All you apparently have to do is talk to Cortana through a button in the upper right of the Skype app to book a hotel room in let’s say Cape Town. Your booking is automatically added to your calendar, and Cortana will suggest you message a contact who lives in Cape Town about your visit. It will even write your message for you: “Hey, I’ll be in Cape Town from May 10 to 12. Would you want to meet up?   

According to a recent article in Tnooz, travellers don’t even have to do any effort to talk to Cortana. The artificial intelligence software will also scan users’ conversations. If it picks up that the user is writing messages suggesting they need a hotel, the bot will prompt the user to confirm the itinerary and suggest a hotel, show the options available and offer price comparisons.

Google is also actively trying to get a bigger piece of the travel market pie with its new Destinations search ability. Users use Google on their mobile phones to search for the continent, country or state that they want to travel to and add the word “destination” to see available flight and hotel prices.

Should travel agents be worried about these new developments?

Not really. Retail travel experts say Google and Skype don’t have the one thing that make travel agents stand out: customer service.

Travel agents explain that those who are satisfied with online bookings are primarily shopping for price and want minimum human interaction. But this is not true for the traditional travel agent’s clients, who are seeking professional advice and personal relationships as well as value-for-money.

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