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BBT March/April 2019 cover
March/April 2019

Buyers not convinced by technology

Concept drawing of technology above the clouds

New research from the Business Travel Show has found that travel buyers are yet to be convinced by next-generation technology, with more than half saying they believe bots, blockchain and augmented reality will have minimal to no impact in the next three years.

Only a fifth of the 134 buyers polled said they see technology ‘significantly improving booking, saving time and money’ by 2022.

However, there appears to be more faith in the abilities of artificial intelligence (AI); 18 per cent of respondents believe it has the potential to ‘revolutionise’ the travel industry over the next three years. A quarter said they think it will significantly enhance the traveller experience in that time, while 39 per cent predict it will have little to no impact.

Eighteen per cent believe AI will improve booking, saving time and money.

Interestingly, the survey – part of the Business Travel Show’s “Travel 2022” theme – revealed that despite the apparent nonchalance about emerging technology, two-thirds of buyers said the industry will only survive through innovation. Meanwhile, 30 per cent think it will endure through evolution and 4 per cent believe it needs a complete reboot.

Paul Shepherd, founder of AI specialist We Build Bots, commented: “When built and used correctly, chatbots can transform customer service, increase efficiencies and even help companies to save and make money. Multinational airlines and online travel sites would offer a competitive advantage if they were to offer a full integrated chatbot using AI and machine learning combined with customer service agent support in order to deliver a 24/7/365 intuitive service.”

Over the next three years, he said, “Natural Language Processing (NLP) will continue to improve, which means that chatbots will become easier and more intuitive to interact with. As well as this, the rise in voice will continue to have a huge impact. The possibilities of using voice are endless. Imagine asking your smart home device to check you into your next flight and receiving your boarding pass directly into your inbox. Or alternatively, ask it to search for a holiday that meets your needs, whether that be in school holidays, a particular temperature, or less than a four-hour flight away. Chatbots’ use of voice is improving and evolving consistently and going forward, we’re sure to see huge developments in this space.”

Read our full interview with Shepherd here.

Shepherd will take part in a Masterclass panel session for hosted buyers titled “Introduce bots into your travel programme to slash admin and boost communications” at the Business Travel Show at London’s Olympia on Wednesday, 20 February at 1000.

In addition, there will be a session titled “Hi-tech in action – how AI, blockchain, bots, augmented/virtual reality will transform travel management” on Thursday, 21 February at 1430.

To register for a free pass to the event, visit businesstravelshow.com/register

Comments

"Only a fifth of the 134 buyers polled said they see technology ‘significantly improving booking, saving time and money’ by 2022." After the Brexit vote this is the most depressing thing I have ever seen in print. How can an industry that is fundamentally linked to technology beleive that in the next 3 years there will not be major improvements that impact the industry. If this is a true representation of the industry (which I am almost certain it is not) we need to fundamentally change the way in which Travel understands the wider world and how it can leverage the incredibly positive change technology is bringing to the world.

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