The rise of data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is leading to a revolution in data-driven business travel and policy configuration. Advances in business travel algorithms have the potential to unlock major time and cost savings for travel managers and travelers alike, by automatically detecting the best value flights and hotel rooms and serving only the most preferred travel options.
However, to what extent do, and even should, travel managers trust algorithms to provide them with reliable information that they can confidently use to make smart business decisions?
Ultimately, it’s down to tech companies to build confidence in these algorithms and the AI-fueled tech they power, in order to encourage travel managers to fully adopt them over time.
Technology is reshaping the business travel industry
The world is currently in a state of flux. COVID-19 remains an ongoing unknown and unforeseen geopolitical conflicts are having significant ramifications around the world.
Consequently, while business travel has been recovering from its mid-pandemic slump, businesses are still wary of picking up from where they left off just a few years ago. In fact, according to SAP, most finance managers (84%) say their company is less than entirely prepared to handle an increase in business travel in 2022.
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For many, the key to greater travel confidence is having access to better knowledge at every step of the journey, even if plans change unexpectedly. Fortunately advances in technology are helping travel arrangers, managers, and travelers achieve this.
Whether it’s via more personalized schedule information, more accurate hotel recommendations, access to 24-7 AI-powered support, or real-time travel updates sent directly to the traveler’s phone, technology is empowering to make better decisions and to self-serve elements of their journey – boosting confidence across the board.
Great data is the key to trustworthy algorithms
When it comes to intelligent business travel planning, algorithms now play a pivotal role in the process, and the development of advanced AI is helping to build more frictionless travel experiences all the time. That being said, algorithms can only ever be as strong as the data behind them.
Today’s travel managers and bookers need powerful tools that can use strong data to create intelligent experiences and opportunities such as ‘what if’ scenarios and dynamic pricing structures.
The best travel management platform providers know this, which is why they invest in solutions that maximize vast global datasets on everything from price fluctuations and demand to local weather events and traveler behavior across all segments of the industry.
The configuration of travel teams has changed Many travel teams are now much smaller than they were prior to the pandemic as disparate groups get together for business-critical face-to-face interactions. As a result, we’ve noticed the potential benefits from dedicated travel algorithms and AI tools are even more significant.
For example, travel managers can use AI to create policy recommendations based on a combination of their business size, needs and projected annual spend, as well as what similar companies are doing, without having to painstakingly research it, or design entire policies from scratch. This approach can save huge amounts of time and resources, particularly for small teams.
In a world full of ongoing uncertainty, corporate travel managers, planners, and travelers need tools they can always rely on to make fast informed decisions wherever they are. The best algorithms allow them to do exactly that, drawing from extensive datasets to deliver important insights and recommendations where they are needed most.
About the author...
Axita Bhalsod is senior director of analytics for Egencia