The Lufthansa Group has launched a chatbot called Mildred, which searches for the cheapest flights within the next nine months.
Users can narrow their search results to specific dates and booking classes and, when searching for an airfare on the Facebook Messenger app, users can use the full name of their departure and destination airports, the international airport codes or their home city as the starting point.
The chatbot knows the nearest airport from which Lufthansa departs and can then find the cheapest prices for an outbound flight with a return flight seven days later.
The chatbot will usually look for a trip within the next nine months, however, if this is too far in advance, the dates can be narrowed down to a specific weekday, month or public holiday.
If a booking class is specified, such as Economy, Premium Economy or Business, Mildred will take this into account.
Users wishing to buy a ticket are redirected to the LH.com mobile website, where they can book the flights directly on their smartphone.
The avatar is a friendly lady with glasses and pink hair which is tied into a bun.
She can remember the chosen departure airport for 24 hours and answers all other requests from there.
The bot is based on a natural language processing platform, Wit.ai.
This platform, chosen by the internal team of developers, understands English as well as German and also recognises place names and dates.
Mildred’s beta version is available now.
The team of developers has come up with and tested many different possible request wordings but in practice many more word combinations are used.
“The production depth of Mildred is already significant, but it is important for us to launch a beta version to give her the chance to learn. In the digital world, the speed and mind-set of start-ups counts, which involves quickly testing a new version and integrating feedback from the target group,” said Torsten Wingenter, head of digital innovation at Lufthansa.
Mildred will initially understand German and English, and other languages will follow.