Artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual services helped (and still are helping) companies survive the pandemic. Business travel capitalized on the technology as much as any other industry, using technology to mitigate stress for travelers seeking help and the travel managers and agents providing it. The greater shift to AI and virtual services wasn’t much of a leap for BCD. The digital solutions were central to BCD’s strategy pre-pandemic, Wright told Business Travel Executive magazine. During the crisis, BCD simply leaned more heavily on technology already in place. Now, BCD is just expediting the adoption or evolution of solutions that help people work smarter and find efficiencies in new places.
How BCD used digital tools and services to address COVID-19
When travel shut down in early 2020, “Putting control in the hands of travelers was important,” Wright said. “We made it easy to cancel and rebook a trip through the mobile app, with the click of a button. Of course, agent service was still an option, but this gave travelers a choice and made it easy. And it took the pressure off of agents on days where call volumes were high because of waivers or border closings.”
Wright explained how BCD:
- Used push notifications in its proprietary TripSource® platform to support nearly 55,000 travelers whose trips were disrupted by COVID.
- Quickly launched the COVID-19 Information Hub, aggregating essential COVID-related information into a single source and on a global level.
- Accelerated key features in its next-gen agent experience platform to help automate and consolidate fragmented data sources – waivers, disruptions, COVID-19 risks and requirements – into a single dashboard, creating efficiencies for agents and more personalized service for travelers.
- Launched BCD Alert, a native mobile app specifically for travel and security managers that pushes risk information directly to mobile devices. Emergency level alerts are sent directly to the home screen prompting a list of impacted travelers. The manager can see who has checked in as safe and contact traveler via voice call, text or email.
Now that the world is relaxing from its heightened state of COVID response, the industry is asking what’s next in terms of flexible technology that doesn’t just handle massive call volumes. Wright said customers are looking for, even expecting, flexible service options for their travelers. They’re learning that the fastest way to program compliance and traveler satisfaction is to provide choice sand make things simple. “Experience is everything,” she said. “If you can give travelers the same intuitive, personal experience they get from their favorite consumer brands, they’ll continue to come back. AI and automation are foundational to the development of these simple, personal experiences.”