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Gatwick Airport launches Facebook Messenger chatbot

Gatwick Airport has launched a ‘Gatwick chatbot’ (referred to as Gail) on Facebook Messenger to provide passengers with easy access to flight information, flight specific notifications, and information on airport shops, restaurants and other facilities.

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As an international airport, Gatwick Airport is also planning to offer the service in different languages next year.

The AI-enabled chatbot provides easy access to information before and during a trip. For instance, passengers can simply type their destination, select their flight from a list and then receive real-time updates on the status of that flight.

Gatwick collaborated within the VINCI Airports network throughout the project and in particular with Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport in France, which launched its chatbot in October 2017. This collaboration helped benchmark what the chatbot could be used for, questions passengers might ask and the value of features such as ‘quick response’. Additional learnings so far include:

Quality of conversations – currently, the Gatwick chatbot understands and answers about 80% of the questions it receives and within a year the chatbots of both Lyon-Saint Exupéry and Gatwick are expected to reach a new level of understanding, reaching around 95% by actively learning from interactions with users.

Customer experience – the Gatwick chatbot takes the experience further by integrating restaurants so that passengers looking for somewhere to eat before their flight can use the chatbot to help them find a suitable restaurant. For example – by asking “Which restaurants have vegetarian options?” users will be presented with a list of options. Other chatbots in VINCI Airports’ network are likely to benefit from learnings based on this this feature.

Multi-channel access – while both the Gatwick and Lyon-Saint Exupéry’s chatbots are available on Facebook Messenger, the Gatwick chatbot will be tested on platforms such as WhatsApp and Apple Business Messenger, while Lyon has focused on web and mobile channels – an approach that will develop further knowledge and best-practice sharing.

Abhi Chacko, Head of Innovation at Gatwick, said:

Our passengers are at the core of everything we do and the aim of this AI-enabled chatbot is to make it easy for them to get airport and flight related information. We have only just rolled this service out on Facebook Messenger but we expect that it will become popular and the chatbot will learn rapidly using artificial intelligence as an increasing number of our passengers use it.

“More globally, experience across VINCI Airports’ network of 46 airports in 12 countries demonstrates that well-designed chatbots successfully engage passengers and can satisfy many of their needs. We believe there is significant potential for chatbots to facilitate, personalise and enrich each passenger’s end-to-end experience across multiple touchpoints.”

Gatwick

Extinction Rebellion protesters ignore call off of protest at Gatwick

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It was called off around 9:30am but some protesters who had already departed for the airport decided to go ahead with the protest instead.

Just over 20 protesters are currently circulating around the South Terminal arrivals hall handing out leaflets with some also playing music and singing.

A spokesman for Extinction Rebellion was asked about the decision cancel and then to go ahead again.

Referring to the violence seen on protesters on the London Tube he said:

“We had a problem this morning and we had a vote yesterday about whether to go ahead with the activity. The vote was no but then some decided to take the action anyway. It went wrong.”

Gatwick spokesperson said:

“Gatwick is open and operating normally today. We are aware of some peaceful protest activity at the airport and our priority is to make sure that our passengers and staff are able to continue their journeys and do their jobs safely without disruption. We will continue working closely with the police, who aim to facilitate this peaceful protest.

“We are determined to play our part to reach ‎the Government’s target of achieving net zero carbon emissions, however we will also remain focussed on the safe operation of the airport.”

This is a live story and will be updated accordingly.

More to come…

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