Customer Experience Digital Transformation Tech

Digital human AI cabin crew Sama takes Qatar Airways’ brand experience to the skies


By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

March 5, 2024 | 7 min read

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With Qatar Airways launching an AI-enhanced version of its digital human cabin crew member, Sama, we explore what this means for the future of brand and customer experiences.

Digital AI cabin crew Sama takes Qatar Airways’ brand experience to the skies

Qatar Airways digital AI cabin crew member Sama gets an AI makeover

Today’s customers are seeking information from brands at the click of a button, the touch of a screen – or, if the latest innovation from Qatar Airways is anything to go by, the voice of artificial intelligence (AI).

But not just the voice of AI; the voice of AI which comes directly from the mouth of Sama – a digitally created high-fidelity 3D human model, who can respond to customer queries in real time.

Conversational AI isn’t a completely new notion. But, with all the noise last year around generative AI, different industries have started to experiment. This latest innovation with Sama is part of Qatar Airways’ broader tech roadmap to redefine the customer journey by solving friction points for passengers, redefining what the future of the travel experience could be.

Who is Sama?

Built by MetaHuman Creator, Sama was introduced in 2022 as the ‘world’s first metahuman cabin crew, signaling a first for the airline industry. Initially, Sama was designed to walk and talk customers through the QVerse, which is Qatar Airways’ immersive, interactive virtual customer experience platform, enabling them to easily navigate and explore the aircraft cabin interior and learn more about its services.

Now, Sama has been through an AI makeover, evolving from what was previously a one-way exchange into conversational AI, with the ability to interact with customers in real time as they look for the most up to date information.

By answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) from customers, she is empowered to cover topics such as baggage allowance, check-in, what to do during a layover, and more. By reducing the number of steps required to find this information, the aim is to empower customers to find their answers in the shortest time possible.

Buckle in

More than a chatbot, the technology works through both text-to-speech and voice-to-speech. This enables customers in the QVerse to ask questions, to which Sama can respond with helpful answers. She currently communicates in English, with more languages to follow.

Through integration with OpenAI, Qatar Airways says it has been taking considerable steps to ensure that the AI model has been trained extensively so that any information customers gain is 100% trustworthy and reliable, with no room for mistakes.

Although the use of digital influencers more broadly across the marketing industry isn’t new, the AI-enhanced version of Sama marks a step change for the airline industry, where making sure customers have access to the most up-to-date information to be able to make informed decisions about their journeys and travel plans is key.

AI in the future

This latest enhancement is all part of Qatar Airways’ broader innovation story to provide services that are both helpful and useful, ensuring that it’s “not just tech for tech’s sake” in reimagining brand and customer experiences.

Qatar Airways’ vice-president of marketing Babar Rahman says: “Qatar Airways remains at the forefront of innovation. The evolution of Sama embodies the airline’s values of exceptional service and hospitality, which enhances our customers’ digital experience. This industry-leading revolution of our virtual cabin crew highlights the importance of connecting with our passengers through authentic, approachable, and realistic interactions.

“Qatar Airways has come a long way in its utilization of AI to develop our digital human cabin crew, and we are excited to see where this will take Sama 2.0 as she continues to develop over time, enhancing her offerings to our customers.”

The idea that we can start to imagine a world where Sama evolves beyond the realms of customer care to give flight recommendations, booking status, and seat options might not be that far off, but one thing’s clear - AI is starting to take off with the potential to redefine the travel experience.

To find out more and to speak to Sama, visit QVerse here.

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A multiple award-winning airline, Qatar Airways won the ‘World’s Best Business Class’ for the tenth time at the 2023 World Airline Awards, managed by the international...

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