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One Year of Bots at Skyscanner

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This talk was given at Mobile Monday Edinburgh, 6/12/2016.

Richard Keen and Stefan Sabev talk about building bots at Skyscanner and what they've learned in the past year.

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One Year of Bots at Skyscanner

  1. 1. One Year of “Bots” at Skyscanner Stefan Sabev & Richard Keen
  2. 2. Our ultimate goal: to make travel booking as easy as it is today to buy a book online
  3. 3. Compare that to air travel 700 airlines 14,000 airports 1000 providers Near-infinite route-date combinations 26 seat classes Taxes Fees
  4. 4. As early entrants to the ‘app economy’ we racked up downloads and stars.
  5. 5. Three Million Apps
  6. 6. On average, how many new apps do most users download per month?
  7. 7. None
  8. 8. 8+ 5-7 4+ 3+ 2+ 1+ None % of smartphone users, United States only, comScore 3 month average Q4 2014 Average number of monthly app downloads
  9. 9. 66% 50% -77% -95% Download no new apps Drop off during first use Average user loss within 3 days Average user loss within 90 days Apps are hard
  10. 10. “Get me a BA flight from Sofia to Amsterdam leaving tomorrow morning for less than €100” 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 7 9
  11. 11. Comfort, not convenience, is the most important thing in software - and text is an incredibly comfortable medium” Jonathan Libov Analyst, Union Square Ventures “
  12. 12. Slack 3M+ Payments: No Messenger 1Bn + Payments: Yes Skype 300M+ Payments: No Kakao Talk 160M+ Payments: Yes Line 212M+ Payments: Yes Viber 608M+ Payments: Yes Alexa Unknown Payments: No WeChat 650M+ Payments: Yes WhatsApp 1Bn + Payments: Coming Snapchat 200M+ Payments: No
  13. 13. And already, most of the top apps in the stores are messaging apps - whether measured by downloads or sessions. Source: Mary Meeker, KPCB Internet Trends, 2015
  14. 14. If apps were in the business of selling us distraction, bots will be in the business of buying us time.” Suman Deb Roy Data Scientist, Betaworks “
  15. 15. A computer should “never ask the user for any information that it can auto-detect, copy or deduce” Eric Raymond via Ben Evans “
  16. 16. Think twice before building any new product - platforms emerge all the time, they might already be too hard to penetrate - or not suitable for every purpose. Don’t follow fashion. Do it for the right reasons.
  17. 17. 90% Zombie apps in iTunes and Google Play Apps are hard Source: AdJust app store report, 2016
  18. 18. Treat bot users as if they’ve downloaded an app - onboarding and understanding are critical
  19. 19. Plan ahead!
  20. 20. Ask Skyscanner for a flight Sure, where are you flying from? London Great, where are you flying to? Seattle Thanks, when are you leaving? Friday And finally, when do you return? November 13th Great, finding prices…
  21. 21. Build something that’s far too complicated - otherwise it’ll probably be too complicated for your users too
  22. 22. Domino’s Pizza have 34 million pizza combinations in their menu Their conversational products let you order your favourite - making frequent use much easier
  23. 23. Lean on the platform before thinking about endless conversation and deep AI
  24. 24. Expect the unexpected - people will say things you probably can’t answer
  25. 25. “Book me a direct flight from Milan to Edinburgh tomorrow morning, arriving before 4pm please” “…and can I take my dog on the plane?”
  26. 26. Ask Skyscanner for a flight Sure, where are you flying from? Ask Skyscanner for a flight please Sorry, I don’t understand…
  27. 27. Have thick skin - more than just confusing you, people often treat bots as the fourth emergency service
  28. 28. “I’ve lost my keys” “Shopping trollies are enslaving humanity, which side are you on?” “I’m looking for muscle bears and big strong muscle men”
  29. 29. Where would you like to go? Heaven Where are you leaving from? Hell
  30. 30. “F**k you” (x 806) “F**k that, find me a free flight” “I don’t want to go anywhere, I’m too f**king lazy”
  31. 31. Don’t forget who you do this for…
  32. 32. Feedback: @skyscannertools Thank you - questions welcome