Alex Kaluzny, senior vice-president and chief product and technology officer at Expedia Group business travel management firm Egencia, with his predictions for 2020.
Personalisation in the travel sector has begun to take off thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
But, to date, the impact of personalisation has largely been contained to flight rates and hotel options.
The predictive analytics we have seen in consumer apps like Netflix, which give you personalised recommendations, have begun to show signs of progress in business travel.
Imagine a client trip to a never-before-visited location and a TMC with an embedded option to serve up a restaurant dining option when you land, tailored to your food preferences from other trips or restaurant receipts entered.
It’s a bit far out, but according to the Wex 2019 US Travel Trends Report, 33% of millennial travellers would allow a computer to plan a whole trip based on their travel history data.
Almost a third (31%) of companies have invested in AI to get ahead of the competition, according to Accenture, and the travel industry is no different.
AI began to offer new features in 2019, such as automatic rebooking when prices drop and using policy to search for hotels or flights.
In 2020, contracts between travel companies around the world will shift as AI is embedded even deeper into travel management platforms.
Travel booking has evolved from phone calls to websites, and mobile to apps. All the while, no channel has fully disappeared.
2020 will be no different. Communication channels will continue to increase, with an increasing number of people using bots and voice AI.
Consumers will expect to be able to travel and communicate their needs in real time – in whatever channel they prefer – without skipping a beat.
Additionally, information will need to carry over. A traveller will expect to be able to start on the phone, hop online to a website and pick a flight, then adjust a booking through a voice-enabled app – minus the friction.
End-to-end will be the end all, be all, for 2020.
5G will allow data and devices to do more advanced work remotely.
Image recognition, video streaming, voice-based execution – collaboration across industries will accelerate around the globe.
Spending on 5G mobile infrastructure is expected to reach 2.3 billion dollars in 2021, according to Statista, meaning more support for remote workers to have faster access to information.
But don’t be fooled – technology will not eliminate human-to-human interaction, but create opportunity to connect to new cultures, partners and talent in untapped regions.
As new talent is being discovered in more geographies, the need for business travel and face-to-face interactions will increase as a 5G rollout comes to fruition in 2020.