If you’re like me, you use Facebook Messenger as a way to chat with the people who are your Facebook friends. After all, you can text, video call or even send pictures. But it turns out you can also use it to help with stuff when you’re traveling.
Booking Flights & Hotels
Major travel brands are starting to integrate Facebook Messenger to help them communicate with their customers.
If you book a flight directly with KLM, they give you the option to receive booking confirmations, flight updates, and boarding passes in Messenger. You can also chat directly with customer service agents, if you’d like.
Hyatt has the option of a Messenger bot and besides being able to answer questions, it can also help customers book rooms in its hotels anywhere around the world. Of course, no bot is perfect (yet), so if you get stuck, or are like me and would rather talk to a real, live person via Messenger, you can also choose that option.
If you start a Facebook Messenger chat session with Kayak, a bot will ask what your requirements are (i.e. “Flights from JFK to Los Angeles next week”), as a couple of other questions and then search for what you’re looking for. It can also give vacation suggestions if you give them a financial range, and if you integrate your Facebook account with Kayak, it can send real-time updates on gate changes and flight delays.
Expedia.com is just starting to integrate Facebook Messenger, so whereas the actual website can help you book hotels, flights, cruises and rental cars, its Facebook Messenger bot can only search for hotels at this time. You just have to open Messenger, tell the bot what you’re looking for and the five most popular hotel options in your chosen location will be shown. If you click on any of them, you’ll be brought to Expedia’s website to complete the transaction. Once booked, you’ll receive a message in Messenger, with a link to the itinerary.
Finding Your Friends
Anybody else ever have this conversation?
“OK, so we’re meeting at the corner of 54th and 6th at 3pm and it’s 2:54. Where are you?”
“I’m at the Museum of Natural Sciences”
“Where is that?”
Messenger’s “Live Location” feature lets your friends know exactly where you are in real time, and how long it will take them to get to you. And that’s pretty perfect if you’re, I dunno, traveling in NYC and went your separate ways for part of the day (because you agreed ahead of time that was an OK thing to do) but it’s time to get back together, say, for dinner (here’s how to not eat like a tourist in New York). The feature’s available on both iOS and Android, and lasts for an hour by default. You can also switch Live Location on or off with a single tap from any chat window.
Depending on arrangements, sometimes you and your travel mates will have to pay someone back for your share of the hotel, taxi, meal, whatever. If you and your friends have your respective Visa or Mastercard information loaded into Facebook’s secure payment app, you can pay each other as individuals, or if you have an Android, a group can split costs between everyone.
All these ways to use Messenger for travel sound cool but, of course, user beware. After all, Facebook hasn’t proven itself to be the most trustworthy company out there. Some people might think they’re all awesome additions but, as always, Your Mileage May Vary.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary