Rightmove experiments with ‘Rent London’ Facebook Messenger bot and iOS app
Rightmove is testing out new ways for home hunters to interact when searching for a home to rent.
An experimental Facebook Messenger bot has been created for people searching in London for a place to rent, and is available to anyone by searching for ‘Rent London’ within Facebook Messenger.
Using Messenger’s conversational style interface, renters can search for properties, view property details, shortlist properties, book viewings and be notified when new properties are listed on Rightmove. The bot has been created using the Teneo natural language platform from Artificial Solutions.
The bot will ask potential renters a series of questions, such as what kind of home they are looking for, their budget, when they want to move in and where they would like to live near to. People can then create a shortlist of properties that they like, and can send a message to the agent marketing the property to book a viewing.
Rightmove’s Head of Innovation, Hannes Buhrmann explains: “Our Messenger bot enables us to explore the potential of messaging apps and conversational user interaction. At this stage it’s very much in its infancy so it won’t understand some things, but as more people use it the more it will understand. While searching in this way won’t replace traditional methods any time soon, messaging platforms are becoming key communication tools for many people and so we feel it’s important to learn how best to engage users through conversational interfaces such as this one.”
The bot can be used on its own, or for more functionality it can be used in conjunction with Rightmove’s new experimental ‘Rent London’ app that anyone on iOS can download through the Apple store:
As well as the usual price and property type search terms, the app lets a renter add the date they are planning to move, the destination they commute to each day and their maximum desired travel time. They can choose a location if they know where they want to live, or they can let the app choose suitable properties within the M25 that match with their other criteria.
Once they are looking at properties, they can access extensive neighbourhood information, including price overviews, area guides, and a comparison with neighbouring properties. The app will also suggest similar neighbourhoods in other parts of London. Renters can tell the app whether they like or dislike a neighbourhood and the app will automatically promote properties in preferred neighbourhoods to the top of the search results.
If they choose to connect the app to Facebook Messenger they can be alerted to new properties that match their criteria directly in Messenger. Once they receive an alert in Messenger, they can ask for more details, save the property to their shortlist, or request a viewing without leaving Messenger.
Buhrmann continues: “We’re constantly trying out new features and ways for our users to find the home they want and find their happy, and through these experiments we want to find out the information that matters most to renters when they are searching online. Do they want help with a location? Is it handier for them to receive updates in their Facebook Messenger app than on email? We hope this trial will help provide further insight into a number of these things and help inform future versions of our main platforms.”