Experience Overijssel: Tourists Will go Where you Point Them

In this session, Rajneesh and Ondrej provided us with insights on the technology, its prospects and its advantages.

For the first session on Wednesday, we were joined by Rajneesh Badal (Travel with Zoey) and Ondrej Mitas (Breda University of Applied Sciences) for a discussion on digital travel butlers and providing personalised travel suggestions and ultimately looking into influencing travel behaviours.

For the first session on Wednesday, we were joined by Rajneesh Badal (Travel with Zoey) and Ondrej Mitas (Breda University of Applied Sciences) for a discussion on digital travel butlers and providing personalised travel suggestions and ultimately looking into influencing travel behaviours. Rajneesh and Badal have previously collaborated on researching Zoey on destination experiences. In this session, they provided us with insights on the technology, its prospects and its advantages.

Zoey is a travel butler developed to support travellers with decision-makingand booking processes during all stages of travel. In practice, Zoey is just another contact in your contact lists with whom you can chat. Zoey responds with answers validated by moderators. Zoey has been developed based on a database of real circumstances and travel insights. Ondrej added that digital solutions such as Zoey are aimed to make travel experiences personal and manipulate the information that tourists receive.

The speakers mentioned that destinations are always looking for the best way to digitally communicate with travellers and draw communication strategies for enhanced visitor experiences. Zoey is the solution to the gap in the market, providing real-time assistance during travels. Zoey supports decision-making before the trip and continues to support travellers during the travel period with suggestions and insights. Post-travel, Zoey gathers feedback on destination experiences.

In the early stages, Zoey was mainly moderated by humans, with around 9 out 10 questions answered manually. However, over time the tool has been increasingly automated. As Ondrej and Rajneesh explained, human interaction is important to keep on top of the content and the experience. Improvements in the automation services mean human moderators could be less involved while maintaining the quality of the information provided through the service.

In terms of service, travellers look for accuracy of information. It is important to create satisfactory, pleasing, decent-quality recommendations. Zoey has been successful in making travel recommendations and introducing fewer visits location in the destination to visitors scoring higher compared to map-based apps available. The quality of the automated service has meant that often travellers, after a few interactions, ask if the experience is solely through a bot. In fact, it is both. Moderators enhance the service with their contribution.

Destinations can benefit from similar chatbots easily. All that is needed is a database of less visited places, a filtering system and an evaluation of which locations are ready to receive visitors. Most well-known places are visible on search engines such as Google. The art is to make recommendations to other attractions.

To conclude, the panel mentioned that Research, Optimisation, and Improvement are key. The process requires constant data measures, observations and collecting insights.

Key Takeaways

1. The quality of automated services should be satisfactory and ensure that travellers receive information supporting their decision makings at all travel stages.

2. Whilst automated services improve efficiency in service, the human contribution to such services enhances their quality.

3. Databases support the accuracy of the information and services provided through chatboxes. To improve the service provided, regular evaluation and optimisation of the databases are required.

Published on:
June 2022
About the contributor

Ondrej Mitas 


Dr. Ondrej Mitas (born Bratislava 1982) researches tourists’ emotions. His ultimate goal is to guide the tourism industry, governments, and tourists themselves to make choices that will optimize their enjoyment of life. 


Rajneesh Badal 


Tech entrepreneur with > 10 years experience in Travel, Virtual Assistants and Customer Experience