You may have already encountered Jenn, the friendly virtual travel agent who answers questions about everything from mileage plans to flight reservations on Alaska Airlines’ Web site. Now, that same technology — developed by a small startup in Spokane — will be coming to the pages of Expedia this fall.
“The virtual agent will be an extension of the Expedia brand by providing an intuitive, conversational tool that will help our millions of travelers plan and book travel,” said Tim MacDonald, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Expedia, in a release.
The company behind the virtual employees, Next IT, says that its Human Emulation Software is designed to emulate the absolute best qualities of customer service representatives. Here’s more from the company’s Web site:
Your ActiveAgent Virtual Expert never strays from your messaging or branding, always has the most current and accurate information, and is at work for you 24/7. ActiveAgent embodies all of the best characteristics of your highest performing representatives, allowing users to ask natural language questions and receive relevant, content-specific answers with unrivalled accuracy.
Alaska Air already has laid claim to Jenn, while Continental Airlines’ virtual assistant goes by the name of Alex? Virtual assistants from Next IT also are used by the U.S. Army (Sgt. Star) and Gonzaga University (Spike).
So, what should Expedia call their virtual assistant? How about Earl? Or, since it seems that female virtual agents are the preference, Edna?
I imagine the naming brainstorms are already going on inside the Bellevue headquarters of Expedia.