Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are more than just buzzwords. In fact, they are important developments that are already impacting business travel — and the role of travel manager.
Early this year, Tech 2 provided a brief rundown of the effects AI and machine are having (and will have) on corporate travel and travel management now and in the future. The impact isn’t just domestic either. A new analysis of corporate travel in China indicates that business travel is becoming more “intelligent, diversified and customized.”
What does this mean for corporations, travel managers and business travelers? Here’s a look at answers to some of the key questions around artificial intelligence and machine learning in corporate travel.
What’s Driving This Change?
It’s only natural that artificial intelligence and machine learning would impact the business travel sector, just as they are beginning to touch almost every industry. But what are the specific drivers of this change in corporate travel?
First, companies are looking to reduce their travel-related costs. Machine learning, for example, works in concert with predictive analytics to provide users a glimpse of the future. Specific to business travel, machine learning helps travel managers get a more accurate sense of travel expenses, the behavior of individual travelers, spending patterns and more.
And, second, artificial intelligence and machine learning can help enhance a traveler’s experience. Companies ask a lot of their traveling team members, who are spending time away from home and family, as well as enduring odd hours and work days spent across multiple time zones. AI and machine learning give travelers on-demand service, customization of their travel experiences, as well as insights (such as predictive pricing and delay forecasting) that help reduce stress.
What Specific Tools Will Companies and Travelers Use?
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are big concepts that travel managers may have a hard time translating into specific benefits for their companies and their travelers. But think of the benefits of AI and machine learning as helping companies and travelers in 3 primary ways:
Ease of Online Booking
Artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms can take information from a user’s online behavior and begin to create a personalized experience for that user. That means, rather than sorting through options when booking, an online booking platform can feed to a user options it knows he or she prefers.
On-Demand Virtual Assistants
Traditionally, travelers called a customer service representative when needing help at any point in the travel process, including during booking, trip disruptions and even after a trip was complete.
But artificial intelligence offers travelers the chance to interact with a helpful and virtual assistant, whenever assistance is needed. Anything from checking schedules to confirming itineraries to weather forecasts and traffic conditions are at the fingertips of any given traveler.
Constant Access Via Devices and Applications
Tying together the first two benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning is an all-important third benefit: The proliferation of devices and applications puts service and information in the pocket of every traveler.
Airports once featured banks of pay phones for travelers to use in order to get in touch with the home office or a travel agent. Now, smart phone devices and embedded applications have replaced those banks of pay phones with a far easier and more acceptable interface for service.
Embrace These Evolutions in Business Travel Technology
As a travel manager, you’re focused each day on helping your company maximize its investment in business travel while ensuring your travelers are comfortable and cared for while they’re on the road. And here’s the good news: Artificial intelligence, machine learning and other disruptive technologies can help you better serve both your company and your travelers.
At JTB Business Travel, we help our clients embrace new travel technologies rather than seeing them as advancements to be feared. We offer a series of products and services that harness the latest in travel innovation and technology, and we help our clients maximize their investment in travel by focusing on common sense solutions and recommendations.
Contact us today about how new technologies can help enhance your company’s business travel.