Travel e-commerce company Ctrip has launched a microblogging “robot” that will answer queries regarding travel, flights and accommodation in China, bolstering its social media presence, and hoping to get viral among Sina Weibo users.
The NASDAQ-listed company’s Ctrip Robot will provide immediate responses to questions directed via Sina Weibo. With this system, users save on time and effort, as they no longer have to login to a separate website when doing flight, hotel and other travel-related searches. Weibo users can simply key in their query on their Weibo app of choice — or even a mobile device — and the Ctrip Robot will reply with the best possible information.
The system has both benefits and disadvantages, though. Ctrip hopes the use of Sina Weibo can help get travel information viral, with users possibly sharing the results with their friends. However, since said Weibos are broadcast in public, there might also be privacy concerns, cites Penn-Olson.
The service is currently open to Sina Weibo users, and there’s no word on whether Ctrip will also run its robot on Tencent Weibo and other microblogging services. Users need only mention their planned travel details, along with the Ctrip Weibo account to use the service. For instance, tweeting “Shanghai Tokyo February 21 ticket @携程” will generate a reply linking to the appropriate travel page with flight details between Shanghai and Tokyo back on the Ctrip site.
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