Last December, Hipmunk, my favorite travel service, gave itself a conversational interface via a bot called “Hello Hipmunk.” At the time, you could access it only via email (you could even cc: it on a message as if it were your personal assistant).
Starting today, the service is hopping aboard one of the hottest trends in tech by turning Hello Hipmunk into a chatbot for Facebook Messenger and Slack. As before, the bot lets you research flights and hotels by chatting, and Hipmunk has been upgrading it to understand more open-ended questions.
The bot still doesn’t display anything like human intelligence—when I asked for suggestions on where to go to surf, its first recommendation was Yosemite National Park—but it’s fun to use. And it’s right inside a couple of services that millions of people use every day.