If you believe the plots of the doomsday films, the robots have risen up and we have become the slaves of the artificial intelligence (AI) we created.

That hasn’t quite happened. The reality is that we have found many practical uses for AI, from making manufacturing processes faster and safer to vacuuming our homes.

Travelport Locomote’s Blake Hedger, in a presentation to the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation and Corporate Travel Summit last week, looked at how artificial intelligence and robots are influencing the future of travel.

Luckily, rather than sending his audience fleeing in terror at their impending demise, our Head of Customer Experience & Portfolio Delivery outlined bot-powered trends which, like many other Internet-enabled advances, present challenges and opportunities for the travel industry.

Meet Bebot

Blake introduced us to BEBOT as an example of the practical use of chat bots we’re already seeing in the travel space.

Created by Bespoke, Japan’s first AI chat bot takes over many of the services of a traditional concierge, answering basic desk questions like what level the gym is on and organising late check out. Travellers can ask BEBOT for recommendations on places to eat and visit and directions on how to get there.

Chatbots like BEBOT are computer programs designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with human users via conversational interfaces.

Are we ready for that?

Like many tech advances, it takes time for customers to ‘trust’ them with high value interactions and for industries to figure out how they can best help solve customer pain points. And there is always a place for personalised service.

But like many automated, tech-enabled solutions, Blake explained, bots can free travel agents to spend more time doing what they’re best at while providing an engaging way to interact with customers, particularly outside normal business hours.

BEBOT shows chatbots are already making their way into the travel industry, and it appears consumers are on board.

For example, of the 4 billion people estimated to be online in 2018, 90% will be using messaging apps. Instant messengers are also dominating time spent on mobile, with a similar percentage of total digital time spent in messaging, according to comScore.

And a recent Ubisend survey showed 64% of consumers expected businesses to be available in messaging apps and half would rather use a messaging app than a phone call to communicate with a business.

More recently, at Travelport Live, Facebook’s Paul McCrory said 59% of people were more likely to transact with businesses who enable messaging. Like smartphones overtook desktops a decade ago, the trend is towards using applications built on existing platforms. ‘For the first time ever,’ as Ted Livingston says, ‘bots will let you instantly interact with the world around you.’

Travelport Locomote is an automated, user-friendly, seamless end-to-end corporate travel platform with a range of app-powered workflows and features that can manage everything from planning, approving and booking corporate travel to messaging and reporting.

To experience the future of corporate travel, chat to one of our team or book in a product demo today.

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