We’ve all experienced the frustration and tedium of trying to find a good hotel deal. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if someone just sent you the best deal? That’s what Henry Shi is bringing to the table. Shi, a former Google engineer, is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at SnapTravel, a SMS- and Messenger-based hotel booking platform. Yes, you read that right: no phone calls, no being put on hold – and no downloading an app. Shi’s SnapTravel leverages artificial intelligence to respond to queries about travel planning and hotel booking. And when the chatbot can’t help or isn’t capable of helping, there are human agents standing by to step in. Shi and the other founder, Hussein Fazal, saw a significant need for a simple way for people to book hotels without looking through dozens of websites or talking on the phone or meeting with a travel agent.

Shi recognizes the importance of maintaining contact to ensure customer satisfaction, which has led to over $1 million in revenue from Messenger. In his words,

“We’re 100 percent free to the customer…the way we make money is the commission on the hotels. But we’re building a relationship with the customer because we’re chatting with them over a channel that’s very intimate, like SMS or Messenger. For us, it’s a conversation – and that conversation doesn’t stop when you make a purchase. It goes from search to purchase to upgrade to even post-checkout.”


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