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Facebook’s next frontier: chatbots, live video

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Facebook’s next frontier: chatbots, live video | The Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Facebook’s next frontier: chatbots, live video
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc said yesterday that it has opened up its Messenger app to developers to create “chatbots,” hoping that by simulating one-on-one conversations between users and companies it will expand its reach in customer service and enterprise transactions.

Chatbots are automated programs that help users communicate with businesses and carry out tasks such as online purchases. While chatbots have existed in some form for years, they have recently become a hot topic in the tech business as advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning make them far more capable and potentially able to assume a key role in the way customers communicate with businesses.

Facebook launched chatbots on Tuesday with a handful of partners, including Shopify, an ecommerce site, and cable TV news network CNN.

The chatbots are part of Facebook’s effort to build out its Messenger instant messaging app as the go-to place for customers to contact businesses – a strategy that threatens traditional call centers and may cut personnel costs for some businesses.

“You’ll never have to call 1-800-Flowers again,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said during the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco.

Though messaging platforms including Kik, Slack and Telegram already have chatbots, Facebook is seen having several distinct advantages.

For one, Facebook commands a vast trove of data on the estimated 1.6 billion people who use the main service and the 900 million who use Messenger. That allows developers to create chatbots that can personalize tasks, such as making an airline booking or a restaurant reservation.

“From the enterprise or developer perspective, access to those 1.6 billion people is very exciting,” said Lauren Kunze, principal at Pandorabots, which has been building and deploying chatbots for companies since 2002.

“People like a personalized experience and when the chatbot can remember personal details and follow up,” she said.

CNN’s bot, for example, can learn users’ news preferences and recommend articles and summaries accordingly. For a shopping site, users could input price ranges and other preferences before receiving suggestions from the bot.

Tech companies will have to approach chatbots more carefully, however, after an experimental Microsoft Corp bot, called Tay, unleashed a barrage of racist and sexist tweets after being manipulated by Twitter users last month. The company quickly pulled Tay from the Internet.

A PLACE FOR BUSINESS

Facebook has been steadily adding features to Messenger since it was spun off as a separate app in 2014.

Last year, it partnered with Uber [UBER.UL] and Lyft so that users can order a car without having to go through the ride-sharing apps. It also recently partnered with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines so that customers can receive flight updates and booking confirmations through Messenger.

Chatbots could eventually automate such interactions and eliminate customer service calls.

“You’re offloading the pain of navigating those phone systems,” said Chris Fohlin, director of client strategy at consulting agency Engine Digital.

Last year, Facebook partnered with online shopping sites Zulily and Everlane to send customer receipts and order updates through Messenger. It now sees 1 billion messages sent between users and businesses every month, said Seth Rosenberg, Messenger’s product manager. That prompted the company to begin experimenting with chatbots.

“Our goal is to make personalization available at scale for businesses,” Seth Rosenberg, Messenger’s product manager, said in an interview. “It’s giving them ways to deeply engage with their consumers as everything becomes more competitive.”

By making Messenger the go-to place for business-to-person interactions, Facebook hopes people will spend even more time using the app and increasingly rely on it for day-to-day tasks.

Facebook’s chatbots could also threaten businesses’ individual apps. Although there are millions of apps, users spend nearly 90 percent of their time on five apps, according to research firm Forrester. In the United States, two of those apps are typically Facebook and Messenger.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Technology

More than four million guests stayed in an Airbnb on August 10, 2019

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More than four million guests stayed in an Airbnb on August 10, 2019 | The Thaiger

“Airbnb has created an opportunity to meet people from all around the world.” – Pim, an Airbnb Host in Thailand

Exactly 11 years since Airbnb was founded, the home-sharing hospitality company and ‘accommodation disrupters’ celebrated its biggest night ever, with more than 4 million people spending the night in an Airbnb listing on August 10, 2019.

To date, there has been more than half a billion guest arrivals at unique homes and properties all over the world since the company was founded in August 2008.

To work towards bringing the world closer, Airbnb has created the Airbnb Connection Index, which reflects the pairings of countries and regions between hosts and guests. For example, when a guest from Thailand becomes the first to stay with a host in Iceland, a new connection is made. In return, when an Icelandic guest becomes the first to stay with a host in Thailand, another new connection is made.

In 2010, the Airbnb platform had facilitated more than 1,300 connections. By 2015, that number had increased to more than 16,500.

More than four million guests stayed in an Airbnb on August 10, 2019 | News by The Thaiger

Today, approximately 26,000 connections have been made via the Airbnb platform, and by the end of 2019 more than 30,013 connections are expected to be made as the platform grows even further.

With the current presence of the Airbnb platform in 245 countries and regions, it is mathematically possible for there to be 60,025 place-to-place connections. By the year 2027, Airbnb predicts that there will be in excess of 50,000 connections.

As outlined in a recent report, much of Airbnb’s fastest growth is occurring in emerging destinations, propelled by a rising demand for travel to places across Asia Pacific, Africa, and Latin America.

Pim, an Airbnb Host in Thailand, shared, “Airbnb has created an opportunity to meet people from all around the world. It makes me understand that different cultures can live together. We can be happy, we can share, we can have good memories together no matter where you come from.”

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Southeast Asia

Bangkok to Hong Kong the world’s second most popular flight, what’s the most popular?

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Bangkok to Hong Kong the world’s second most popular flight, what’s the most popular? | The Thaiger

The world’s top five flying routes are all in the Asia Pacific region, according to an International Air Transport Association (IATA) report. Aviation writers say the growth can be attributed to the addition of flights operated by low-cost carriers in the region.

Passenger traffic between Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Hong Kong airport is Number Two on the list of the airports with the world’s busiest air traffic. The trip between Hong Kong and Taipei Taoyuan, Taiwan, is the most popular route in the world carrying 5.4 million passengers per year.

Passenger traffic between Suvarnabhumi and Hong Kong reached 3.4 million in 2018, up 9% from 2017.

The report of IATA world airline traffic for 2018 also shows that airlines in the Asia Pacific carried the largest number of passengers in the world.

Global passenger traffic results for 2018 showed that demand rose by a healthy 6.5% compared to full-year 2017. Although this represented a slowdown compared to the 2017 annual growth of 8.0%, it was another year of above-trend growth. Full year 2018 capacity climbed 6.1%, and load factor edged up 0.3 percentage point to a record 81.9%, exceeding the previous high set in 2017.

“Airlines are connecting more people and places than ever before. The freedom to fly is more accessible than ever. And our world is a more prosperous place as a result,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director-general and CEO.

In terms of pure numbers of flights for 2018, here are the results. Eight out of ten of the routes are all in the Asia-Pacific.

  1. Kuala Lumpur – Singapore: 30,187 flights
  2. Hong Kong – Taipei: 28,447 flights
  3. Jakarta – Singapore: 27,046 flights
  4. Hong Kong – Shanghai: 20,678 flights
  5. Jakarta – Kuala Lumpur: 19,741 flights
  6. Seoul Incheon – Osaka: 19,711 flights
  7. New York LaGuardia – Toronto: 17,038 flights
  8. Hong Kong – Seoul Incheon: 15,770 flights
  9. Bangkok – Singapore: 14,698 flights
  10. Dubai – Kuwait: 14,581 flights
  11. Bangkok – Hong Kong: 14,556 flights
  12. Hong Kong – Beijing: 14,537 flights
  13. New York JFK – London Heathrow: 14,195 flights
  14. Tokyo Narita – Taipei: 13,902 flights
  15. Dublin – London Heathrow: 13,855 flights
  16. Osaka – Shanghai: 13,708 flights
  17. Hong Kong – Singapore: 13,654 flights
  18. Chicago O’Hare – Toronto: 13,503 flights
  19. Seoul Incheon – Tokyo Narita: 13,517 flights
  20. Osaka – Taipei: 13,325 flights
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Tourism

Which flight route makes the most money in the world?

The Thaiger

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Which flight route makes the most money in the world? | The Thaiger

The world of aviation now has its first billion dollar route. That’s a flight route that makes more money for an airline than any other. And for the first time that route has breached the one billion dollar ceiling – British Airways’ service between London Heathrow and New York’s JFK.

OAG has come up with a list of the routes and airlines that generate the highest revenue around the world.

The Heathrow to JFK route pockets British Airways more than $1.15 billion in the 12 months up to April 2019. With 600+ flights per month, that equates to an hourly revenue of $27,159, a 10% increase on last year’s revenue. British Airways operates the venerable Boeing 747 and Boeing 777-200s on its Heathrow to JFK services.

So where is the second most profitable flight route in the world? QANTAS Airways’ domestic service between the southern cities of Melbourne and Sydney generates more than $861 million a year for Australia’s national airline.

Number 3 and 4 were also flights out of London’s Heathrow – Emirates’ service to Dubai and Singapore Airlines’ route to Singapore Changi. The Heathrow flights to Doha with Qatar Airways was number 7 and Cathay Pacific’s flights to Hong Kong were Number 8.

North American domestic routes also figured in the top 10. United Airlines’ San Francisco to Newark route delivered annual revenue of $689 million dollars and Air Canada’s Vancouver to Toronto route was Number 9 with annual revenue of $541 million dollars.

Highest-revenue flight routes: April 2018 – March 2019

1. British Airways: New York JFK – London Heathrow

(Total revenue: $1,159,126,794 / revenue per hour: $27,159)

2. Qantas Airways: Melbourne – Sydney

(Total revenue: $861,260,322 / revenue per hour: $23,773)

3. Emirates: London Heathrow – Dubai International

(Total revenue: $796,201,645 / revenue per hour: $24,926)

4. Singapore Airlines: London Heathrow – Singapore Changi

(Total revenue: $735,597,614 / revenue per hour: $18,771)

5. United Airlines: San Francisco International – Newark

(Total revenue: $689,371,368 / revenue per hour: $12,882)

6. American Airlines: Los Angeles LAX – New York JFK

(Total revenue: $661,739,788 / Revenue per hour: $13,099)

7. Qatar Airways: London Heathrow – Hamad International

(Total revenue: $639,122,609 / revenue per hour: $20,415)

8. Cathay Pacific Airways: Hong Kong International – London Heathrow

(Total revenue: $604,595,063 / revenue per hour: $13,887)

9. Singapore Airlines: Sydney – Singapore Changi

(Total revenue: $549,711,946 / revenue per hour: $20,821)

10. Air Canada: Vancouver YVR – Toronto Pearson International

(Total revenue: $541,122,509 / revenue per hour: $11,936)

SOURCE: CNN Travel

 

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