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Barrhead Travel set to trial AI in stores

Andrew Hamilton


Scottish travel group Barrhead is planning to greet its customers with robots and holograms in its travel stores.  

The group has unveiled plans to introduce Pepper robots and Tensator Virtual Assistants – holograms – initially designed to answer FAQs and refer customers to the group’s human agents. The robots, it is hoped, will eventually be able to have a conversation with the customers and secure a sale in the future.

Bill Munro, founder and Chairman of Barrhead, said: “It’ll be a bit of a novelty but once they’re trained they’ll be jack-of-all-trades agents. You can’t expect agents to know everything about everything, so they will be a great support.”

“It’s not going to replace the consultant but it will work with the consultant,” he added. “Ultimately, it’s to get people in front of a human being or lift up the phone.”

Barrhead is investing heavily in innovation, and has funded a number of technologies including voicemail software for busy customers and an online automated chat assistant that can answer consumer and professional queries alike.

The technology drive follows the efforts of other travel firms including Thomas Cook, which recently opened a “Discovery” store in Scotland, geared towards virtual reality. VisitScotland also launched a VR application in March.

Barrhead has also created a new personalised portal for customers, allowing more intimate consultations between agents and consumers. This facility includes 360 room tours, destinations based on their travel history, and a forum for blogging their experience or watching others’.

Munro said: “Video is the future of marketing. It helps to tell the story better, it is more personable and helps create brand and customer loyalty”.

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton

PR & Content Executive at Hutchinson Networks

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