Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and
chatbots are leading the charge in the way that travellers manage
their travel experience and represent the next wave in customised
and intuitive travel management.
Designed to simplify life for corporate
travellers, these technologies are beginning to assist like a
skilled consultant that delivers timely and invaluable assistance.
Australia’s FCM Travel Solutions, one of the
world’s largest corporate travel and expense management companies,
has been developing its own innovative pocket travel assistant
called Sam, short for Smart Assistant for Mobile.
It has been developed out of FCM’s Innovation
Lab in Europe which aims to identify gaps in travel technology and
develop solutions to provide the next level of assistance.
“Sam is a combination of AI-augmented chat
functionality and a team of expert consultants to deliver the best
of both technology and the human experience,” said James Kavanagh,
FCM Travel Solutions’ General Manager Australia. “Not only will
this app Sam fulfill most necessary travel management functions,
but it goes further in tracking your location and providing
real-time information and updates to you on things like traffic
and departure delays and provide you with alternative travel
options to suit. As well as telling you which carousel your
luggage will arrive on, Sam can provide destination information
and the cost of transfer options along with estimations of travel
time to the airport.”
Using a messaging-based interface, Sam
importantly provides users with access to their personal travel
consultant for live assistance on the go, as it augments human
capability and expertise rather than replacing it.
Sam is one such innovation that focuses on the
experience of the traveller rather than another technology
solution which has traditionally served the travel manager or
FCM Travel Solutions is seeing the impact that
Generation Y is having on the corporate travel sector where the
traveller and their experience is central to the service. The
rising ‘voice of the traveller’ within organisations is demanding
greater choice and flexibility.
James Kavanagh said that, “Innovation and the
resulting technology is the enabler of a richer travel experience
and one which anticipates and takes into account your location and
previous travel and booking behaviours. Many travel companies —
including airlines like Qantas, KLM, Lufthansa and Aeromexico — are
deploying their own bots to provide personalised travel services.”
FCM Travel Solutions has been awarded the UK
Guild of Travel Management Companies Innovation Award for 2017 for
Sam. Following the current implementation trial Sam is likely to
be rolled out to other markets including Australia.
“The smartphone era is transitioning into the
conversation era where users are communicating with apps in a more
message-based context and this will extend to include voice,” Mr
Kavanagh said. “The best and most intuitive user interface will
counter app fatigue and accompanied with specialist human
expertise and a knowledge of previous travel patterns will better
address travel requirements.”
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