In today’s fast-changing world of corporate travel, both travelers and travel managers face new demands in order to keep up and meet the needs of the business. One possible solution to this challenge—which has already led to a recent wave of innovation—is now primed to play a key supporting role in travel: Artificial Intelligence (AI).
2023 has been dubbed “the year of AI transformation,” which is fitting considering the way AI has made headlines for its ability to process conversational language and generate articles, essays, images, and even music or code. While this generative aspect of AI is still in its nascent phase (don’t expect AI to create the next Mona Lisa or Van Gogh just yet), its appeal lies in streamlining business operations. AI can make light work of once tedious tasks while also helping businesses minimize human error and improve quality control processes through automation.
For your corporate travel program, this means that routine requests that once required a phone call or an email with a travel advisor can now be efficiently coordinated via an AI-powered travel assistant. Below we explore the role AI can play in enhancing travel management company (TMC) servicing capabilities, freeing up time for both travel managers and their travelers.
The 'Why' Behind AI
A wide range of AI developments have begun to reshape customer care, yielding substantial improvements to the travel management experience. On a service level, AI amps up customer support and makes it easier for your employees to make travel arrangements and changes while away from the office. These enhancements and automation capabilities are prompting travel companies to jump aboard the AI train. In fact, recent research revealed that 30% of the travel industry is already utilizing AI technology.
Since AI simplifies the exchange of travel information, businesses that deploy it successfully are able to elevate the customer experience and relieve employees of travel management tasks. This can be accomplished with a virtual assistant that provides prompt assistance, even after standard hours of operation. This way, employees and those tasked with managing travel don’t have to wait to resolve simple requests that can be addressed through automation.
Some of the noteworthy tasks and problems that a virtual assistant can resolve include:
Traveler profile updates
Improved communication channels and advanced functionality, such as servicing travelers in their preferred language
Retrieving important travel documents, even past invoices
Increased productivity by integrating with your enterprise collaboration platforms, such as MS Teams
Connecting customers to travel advisors for additional support and escalated requests
At Direct Travel, we recently onboarded our own virtual assistant Simon to help clients with rapid travel solutions and immediate service requests. While our travel advisor and account management teams remain committed to assisting travel needs with the same level of responsive service we're known for, the addition of Simon makes it easier than ever to access travel plans and get the answers you need.
Backed by the power of AI, Simon eliminates extra steps like website research or an unnecessary call in order to access quality customer support. Simon can manage a myriad of customer service questions and requests including retrieving invoices and itineraries, assisting with profile updates, password management, COVID-19 resources, and providing information about TSA wait times and allowable items.
“In Direct Travel's review of how we provide support, we found that more than 40% of our frontline interactions are routine requests that don’t require a hands-on approach,” said Darryl Hoover, Direct Travel's Chief Technology Officer. “By deploying Simon to assist with these types of tasks, we allow our team to focus their time and resources on more complex requests and thus improve the customer experience."
Simon is fully automated and designed to deliver fast results. With Simon’s assistance, you can easily access service 24/7 from where you're at, leaving you time to focus on what matters most to your business.
Get Started With Simon
Whether you need assistance with reservations, profile updates, or itinerary copies, Simon is ready to help. Simon currently can be accessed on dt.com and will soon be widely available across select enterprise collaboration platforms like MS Teams. As a valued team member, he is the latest component of our “Whatever It Takes” customer support philosophy. We hope you get to know him soon!