Traveldoo & ESCAET: Exploring Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel

* ESCAET: University for Commerce and Tourism Management, in France

Artificial intelligence uses techniques which replicate human brain activity. Spurred on by GAFA [Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon], AI facilitates our daily lives but raises many concerns due to the ethical issues that can arise. The creation of an entity dedicated to the ethical and social concerns raised by artificial intelligence – the Deepmind Ethics and Society (DMES), which is part of Deepmind Technologies, a subsidiary of the Alphabet Group – is not insignificant and could be a cause for alarm. The whole world wonders where this will end up, and many ideas that were initiated a few years ago are now a reality.

The first things that come to mind are the automatic language processing devices, such as chatbots, or virtual assistants and robotics.

And yet, Artificial Intelligence can also be synonymous with prediction, decision-making, task automation and detection of the best rates. All this relies on machine learning, enabled by engines processing data from a number of different sources. AI impacts our industry around the travel experience, mainly for the corporate customers (travel managers/buyers/financial managers), but also for the TMCs. AI is an engine to promote sales growth, enabling a number of start-ups to compete with long-standing stakeholders. The power of data also allows for the realisation of the much-publicised notion of “blurring” and the closer relationship between business travel and leisure travel “bleisure”. AI is becoming a facilitator, transforming our way of working, in much the same way as the introduction of the internet some years ago.

It clearly falls within the realm of digitalisation of the Business Travel sector, and of the many sectors that interact with other existing and emerging technologies (NDC, blockchain, etc.). The SMACS (Social, Mobility, Access, Cloud, Security) and open data phenomena enable an acceleration towards data access. All this coupled with increasingly powerful algorithms is opening up an avenue for these new types of intelligence. This highlights more than ever the link between technology, the digital world, and data.

The various building blocks of our technological systems for business travel are evolving by integrating AI into numerous areas within the sector such as risk management, information systems management, but also customer service with the arrival of chatbots, voice assistants and tariff engines, account management, travel management and purchasing, data analysis with ever more data sources, and prediction engines that transform the analysis.

For this reason, we decided, within ESCAET, in partnership with Traveldoo and our MBA1 International Travel Management students specialized in business travel, to define what exactly AI is, and what it can be in the world of Travel and Expense: booking, expense management, mobile, security… See you in September for a summary of the work!

Constance Huckendubler, Training Content Director, Publications, Research @ ESCAET

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