The influence of machine learning, blockchain and chatbots can provide travel managers with powerful communication tools to help drive programme compliance, according to a report from BCD Travel.

The report – Communications, Emerging Technology and Travel Management – is the third in the Inform series of reports, with the first focused on the implications of technology on sourcing and the second on how new technology will transform travel policies.

It explores how emerging technologies can be used to deliver effective, personalised messages to travellers in order to engage with them at the right time to encourage policy compliance.

The report also delves into practical examples, such as using a chatbot to respond to a traveller’s query, suggesting the best travel options within the company’s policy. An employee could use a virtual personal assistant to book a trip, and a smart contract stored using blockchain technology can issue an alert to the travel manager when a booking is outside of the programme.

In addition, travel tips and disruption alerts can be pushed out to travellers at the right time using location-based technology. After the trip is completed, the traveller’s virtual assistant could send them a reminder to submit their expense report, which could be pre-populated by a machine learning algorithm.

Natalia Tretyakevich, senior manager of research and intelligence at BCD Travel. “Travel suppliers have become increasingly aggressive and highly sophisticated in marketing directly to travellers. For this reason, it’s important for travel managers to counterbalance that influence, lest it pull travellers away from using preferred suppliers and drive up corporate travel programme costs. Using new and emerging technologies to communicate with, influence and capture the attention of business travellers can effectively influence business travellers to remain within programme.”

The report also includes tips and a checklist for travel managers looking to explore and implement the technologies discussed.

To download the report, and others in the Inform series, visit bcdtravel.com/inform

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