Is the chatbot travel assistant finally a virtual reality? Business Travel News asked BCD Travel’s Miriam Moscovici and other industry tech experts to explore that question in recent articles on how artificial intelligence is emerging in corporate business travel.
In Travel Bots: Are They Here to Stay?, Moscovici said the ability to have a cumulative, natural language conversation with a chatbot has made what once seemed futuristic a tool for today’s business travelers and agents. “Eight or nine years ago, you could ask a chatbot what the flight is to Los Angeles on a given day, and it would respond with some options and some prices, but that was it,” said Moscovici, BCD’s director of emerging technologies. “Now, you can respond again to the chatbot and say, ‘What about a day earlier?’ Entire lengths of conversations can be harmonized into one understanding of what the question is and be able to execute commands.”
Bots won’t replace agents, especially as corporate road warriors (and their employers) place ever-higher value on reducing traveler friction and improving the business travel experience. But artificial intelligence can complement human interactions—ensuring, for example, that a traveler is presented with enhanced trip options.
“It’s one of the most obvious uses for AI in the travel space,” Moscovici told BTN, adding that AI could support expanded recommendations like entertainment and restaurants, and also do many of the small things that occupy an agent’s time. “A lot of it isn’t sexy. … Maybe it’s just a matter of figuring out the traveler’s status, and then the robot can pull together the amenities and benefits afforded to that status so the agent can share them. It just gives [the agent] the capacity to do more sophisticated things, and do them faster.”