As many other sectors, the travel and tourism industries faced great challenges following the 2019/20 health pandemic, with confinements and border closures bringing travel to a halt. Although research exploring the impact of the health crisis is increasing, prior work investigating the potential of emerging technologies to mitigate the negative consequences remains scarce. The purpose of the current paper is to examine tourists chatbot usage intentions in service encounters within the context of a future international travel, assuming continued social distancing. Our results indicate that automation, habit, social presence and health consciousness all contributed positively to chatbot usage intentions. Further variations were observed as a function of experiencing government-imposed lockdown. The role of social presence and human qualities in chatbots was weakened when controlling for lockdown and during the trip experience. Finally, the impact of health consciousness on use intentions was most pronounced during the travel stage.
Cite as: Hasan,Rajibul; Koles, Bernadett; Zaman, Mustafeed; Paul,Justin (2021) ‘The potential of chatbots in travel & tourism services in the context of social distancing’. International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning (In Press)