No matter your industry, AI is likely influencing the way you work. If you’re a business Traveler or Travel Manager, you may find that AI is influencing your travel as well.
The mainstream media’s attention may be on the ways AI can put together an itinerary for your upcoming trip in a flash. However, beyond this, AI is influencing travel in much broader ways behind the scenes, too. It impacts how Travel Managers and Travel Arrangers do their jobs, how business Travelers get to their destinations, and myriad other factors.
Here’s what you need to know.
AI is Influencing Travel by Generating More Traveler Data
According to a recent report from Skift and McKinsey & Company, as more and more Travelers use AI assistants throughout their travel experience, this generates more Traveler data. Don’t think you use AI when you travel? Think again. Even if you don’t use the AI-synonymous ChatGPT, there are likely other AI-enabled assistances that you might use on a regular basis, such as Amazon’s Alexa.
All this travel data can then be harvested by those who can use it best, from Travel Managers to business travel brands. The data can be harnessed to make more informed decisions regarding Traveler care and service, as well as marketing. In the former case, business Travelers definitely benefit. They gain a more personalized travel experience tailored to their unique needs and preferences.
AI is Influencing Travel by Providing a Greater Level of Customer Care
Along the lines of providing a more personalized and tailored travel experience, AI also provides a greater level of customer care, processing needs and complaints — as well as the solutions to those needs and complaints — at a faster pace and with more accuracy than a human often could. AI is simply capable of expediting processes and holding a vast array of knowledge in ways that a human travel professional cannot accomplish alone.
That said, there’s still room for improvement in this area of using AI to better the travel experience. The same Skift and McKinsey & Company report above found that while Travelers want the convenience of AI, they still don’t necessarily trust it in the same way that they would a human.
AI is Influencing Travel by Making Business Travelers More Efficient
If you’re a Travel Manager, you already know that shopping for, booking and then managing travel is a time-consuming task. For business Travelers who do not have a Travel Manager or Travel Management Company (TMC) on their side, these tasks take even more time. AI, though, could change all that.
When tasks like shopping for the perfect flights and hotel stays based on factors like not only convenience and price but also an organization’s travel policies are taken over by AI, it frees up business Travelers to do what really matters. They can focus on taking care of their clients and projects that require a human touch.
Additionally, as planning business travel becomes more convenient and less interruptive of high-value tasks, we may even find that it’s easier and more cost-effective for business Travelers to take more of those trips that matter to maintaining client relationships.
AI is Influencing Travel by Changing Prices
Trying to book a hotel in preparation for a trip? Particularly a hotel that you’ve booked reliably multiple times in the past? You may find that suddenly, the pricing is far more or far less than what you’re expecting. AI could be to blame.
Brands are using AI to scrape through data to estimate demand more accurately for certain travel services and products, like hotel rooms. They then raise prices accordingly.
For example, as one Skift article noted, a hospitality brand could use AI to look through data from social media platforms. If the AI finds that photos of certain rooms in a hotel are being posted more often than others, it could determine that that room is more in demand than others. Then, as mentioned, they would raise the price of the room accordingly.
What AI Can’t Touch
AI is influencing travel in many different ways. It’s making much of the travel booking and traveling processes simpler. However, there are still areas of the experience that AI just can’t touch, such as when it comes to providing personal recommendations or expertise-backed help navigating a complicated travel landscape.
In a TIME article, one expert from the American Society of Travel Advisors said demand from new clients is up, as these advisors can meet demands that AI can’t. The Society’s vice president of communications and marketing at the time of publication, Erika Richter, said, “Almost 30% of our travel advisors are saying that over half of their clients are working with a travel advisor for the first time.…Travel is becoming more complicated. People are wanting that personal touch.”
Where Do Travel Managers Go From Here?
So what does all of this mean for you as a Travel Manager? It’s important to realize what AI can do and what it can’t do.
It can make your life easier by automating time-consuming tasks. It can also help you help your Travelers by providing customer support services, personalized recommendations and more. AI may also help you help your Travelers remain more compliant with their organization’s travel policies.
However, AI can’t replicate your human experience or touch. These elements are necessary when providing personalized recommendations. They’re even more crucial in assuring Travelers that they’ve made the right choices. They also help you in providing confidence to your Travelers that they’ll have a safe, comfortable, convenient travel experience.
JTB Business Travel is Here to Help
Are you a travel professional navigating the world of AI? Not sure how it will impact travel both now and in the years to come? JTB Business Travel is here to help.
With a finger on the pulse of business travel, we work with you to ensure you’re on the leading edge of all the latest innovations in the business travel world while also working to safeguard you from passing trends and fads that aren’t up to standards just yet.