Irish tech companies team up to create AI-powered chatbot for the travel industry

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  • Two Irish tech companies, OpenJaw Technologies and Ludex, have joined forces to develop a groundbreaking ‘conversational chatbot’ powered by artificial intelligence. 

    The AI has been specifically designed to meet the changing customer service requirements of airlines, online travel agencies and airmile programmes.

    Founded in 2002 by the Irish entrepreneurs John McQuillan, Sean MacRoibeaird and John Lambe, OpenJaw Technologies develops software and digital platforms for the travel industry. The company was acquired by the Canadian technology company, GuestLogix, in 2014 for €33.4 million, but is still headquartered in Dublin. 

    Ludex, on the other hand, was founded much more recently; the Dublin-based entrepreneurs, Lucy Clancy and Declan Hoare, launched the startup in 2015, and since then have been working to harness IBM’s machine learning technology (IBM Watson) to develop AI solutions for enterprise customers. 

    The two companies have teamed up to develop a new chatbot nicknamed OpenJaw t-Social, which uses artificial intelligence to respond to the growing flood of customer service enquiries travel companies receive via their social media channels. Many customers increasingly favour social media enquiries over call centres and email, with industry research indicating that the volume of inbound enquiries travel companies are receiving through social media is growing by 20% each year.

    Kieron Branagan, CEO of OpenJaw Technologies, explained: “Travel consumers around the globe live on their mobile phone using social and messaging apps, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and WeChat. They spend most of their time on these, and not the airline website itself. Therefore, it is imperative that airlines, loyalty programmes and online travel agencies provide a service that allows their customers to ask questions, retrieve their boarding passes and flight confirmations on these apps. 

    “We at OpenJaw are always on the lookout for the brightest and best new innovations in our home city of Dublin. We are delighted to partner with Ludex, whom we believe to be part of the next generation of innovators in the Dublin startup world. They are at the vanguard of machine learning and artificial intelligence through their use of IBM Watson. This partnership will enable airlines, loyalty programmes and online travel agencies to improve both customer service and communications with customers.”

    Lucy Clancy, Co-founder and CEO of Ludex, added: ”We are delighted to help OpenJaw Technologies use cognitive computing and artificial intelligence using the Watson platform. Working with OpenJaw has given us an unparalleled opportunity given their industry knowledge and the scale of their customers, such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Iberia Airlines and Hainan Airlines. Ludex is at the forefront of the use of AI to create a personalised and relevant experience for an individual customer. AI is not about replacing humans with technology. Instead, OpenJaw and Ludex have created ‘t-Social’ to help create real conversations and human interactions for customers with travel companies.”

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