Today if we want to travel to any location, we need to go through a tedious process for comparison of different available options for a flight on different websites, then finalize and book them. All of which needs to be operated manually and require constant user attention.

What it does

The skill 'Trip Mentor' suggests the best available flights between two cities on a particular date. This helps the user with its trip planning. It also shows the list of planned trips for the date input given by the user. The skill makes use of Alexa Conversations with a more natural dialog with the user for better user experience.

How we built it

The initial step of our skill development was to get accustomed to development using the Alexa developer console. Then we started building an intent-based skill to get the list of available flights between two cities according to the user’s inputs. The skill compares the flight details and provides list of affordable flight. The user can select the fine option from the list of flight details. The second step of the process was to integrate Alexa Conversations (beta) to our existing intent-based ‘Trip Mentor’skill. To start with integrating Alexa Conversation to the skill a blueprint was made with all needed dialog, utterance sets, slots, API definitions, and responses which helped to build an AI base to train the model to maintain better user conversations. The skill makes use of :
Slot Types:

  • Two PCS slots in which one for getting the inputs from the user to fetch flight details and other PCS for saving the selected flight details.

API Definitions:

  • GetFlightDetails: Fetch all the flight details according to the user input using an external API call and returns a list of flights available as a string to VUI, which is done with Alexa Conversations.
  • SaveMyTrip: This saves the flight details according to the option selected by the user and helps the user with a link to book the flight. Skill makes use of Alexa's persistent adapter for saving the details. Dialog for training the model covers the basic conversation path for user and conversation with context carry over.

Challenges we ran into

As a newbie to Alexa development, getting started was itself a big challenge but reference material on skill development made things faster for us. We also faced challenges:

  • To find suitable external API’s for getting the correct results of flight information with required time details.
  • To integrate Alexa Conversations (beta) into our existing skills.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

  • As beginners on Alexa skill development, successfully developed and certified our first Alexa skill.
  • We were able to identify and integrate the right API’s with the skill
  • Use the latest feature of Alexa Conversations(beta) for better user experience with our skill.

What we learned

  • Fetch external API (async/await)
  • Session attributes
  • Integrating Alexa Conversations to an existing skill.
  • Keeping track of Conversation with Context carry-over

What's next for Plan your travel

Next steps:

  1. Add a reminder for the user prior to his flight.
  2. Integrate the Payment API's so that the user can do a hassle-free payment as soon as it gets the best-suited option shared by the skill.
  3. Once the payment option is integrated, the skill will be extended to search and book hotels and cabs.
  4. Add multiple language support for the skill

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