AI has started to make inroads into the corporate travel space big time. While AI assistants and travel bots are gaining momentum, what business travellers will still look forth in a travel management tool are convenience, usability, efficacy and functionality. What will be interesting to note is how AI and the power of human touch can be put in the same basket when it comes to business travel management process.
With smartphone penetration increasing continuously, and taking in the fact that a corporate traveller, on an average, checks his or her smartphone 34 times a day, travel on the go supported by virtual assistant is becoming commonplace.
The travel bot, as we see, helps meet the increasing demands of the day–to–day business travellers to self–manage their trip, and offers them individual freedom within the designated framework. “Tripeur deploys chat bots to respond to traveller’s queries and simulates customer support for efficiency,” says Thiagarajan Rajagopalan of Tripeur. However, he adds, “Bots cannot replace human touch, not at all, especially when it requires managing complex itineraries or changes and making an exception”.
Do you really want to say ‘hi’ to a bot when you need to fly back home for an emergency medical? The bot, usually, can make changes to travel bookings, look into your flight info and request your transfer on your returning home; however, it is the human empathy that can either make or break crisis communication.
Most technology evangelists believe that chat bots are only as good as what they are designed to be. In complex applications that require greater or unusual cognitive skills, bots have very little say, which implies that human touch is still a potent factor in resolving complex issues. Thiagarajan adds, “It is the combination of travel bots and human service that can make a travel management tool stand out in the crowd and help users cut costs.”
Tripeur does offer interfaces on top for business travellers, but can never make up for the insights and analysis of a travel management team.Therefore, it is the ideal blend of personal service and state–of–the–technology that can take the cake any day. AI has led to rise of enhanced conversational interface and greater relevance of the questions, chat or messages exchanged with the user in the form of ‘personal assistant’ on the go. Manish Raj of Tripeur says, “The more intelligent the chat bot is, the more personalised will be the information delivered. Further, today’s travel management tool comes fully loaded with booking engine, expense management systems, reports, analytics and user dashboards.”