FCTG launches chatbot travel assistant to assist today’s corporate road warriors

14 May, 2018

Flight Centre Travel Group's (FCTG) recently announced the Australian arrival of mobile travel assistant app, Sam.

Employing a blend of artificial intelligence (AI) and integrated travel consultant support, Sam overlays attempts to deliver some important features that a business traveller needs with the experience that a leisure traveller enjoys.

FCTG corporate division executive GM James Kavanagh, believes the launch is an exciting milestone for the Australian business travel community following the launch of Sam in the UK and the USA in 2017. “Sam’s messages are intuitive, helpful and include practical information and advice that is based on context, relevance and a traveller’s personal preferences.”

Mr Kavanagh said Sam fulfilled the necessary travel management functions required by business travellers in Australia but also goes a step further by tracking a traveller’s location, providing real-time information for traffic and flight delays, and featured interactive city guides, weather updates and gate changes.

“Sam will even give you information about what carousel your luggage is on and allows you to book an Uber ride within the app,” Mr Kavanagh said. “Plus, some of the new functionality that’s on its way, is a perfect example of how AI is redefining the travel management space. Across the USA and UK, FCM has travellers from more than 80 national and multi-national companies currently using Sam.”

Sam is now available for clients of FCTG brands FCM Travel Solutions and academic travel provider Campus Travel. FCTG’s SME business travel specialist Corporate Traveller and entertainment and sports travel brand Stage and Screen, will make Sam available for clients, second half of 2018.

Sam also brings the world's first 'chatbot assisted community'

In an Australian and global business travel industry first, FCTG will soon launch a new ‘Community’ functionality within Sam. ‘Sam Community’, taps into the knowledge and experience of a global community of business travellers, serving up user-generated tips and advice based on a traveller’s location or when they ask Sam for assistance or inspiration.

FCM Travel Solutions GM Melissa Elf said the tips and advice that would be available through the ‘Community’ function were provided by business travellers for business travellers.

“Sam Community acutely focuses on the experience of the traveller and how to enhance that traveller’s situation then and there. By providing locally relevant and personalised advice that’s consistently up to date, the entire traveller experience is going to be safer, easier and more enjoyable,” said Mrs Elf.

As well as ‘Sam Community’, the FCTG team will also be showcasing other new Sam functions that are coming soon including:

  • Sam for Travel Bookers: Sam will ensure Travel Bookers are aware of potential issues impacting their traveller(s) and prompt appropriate actions including booking changes and communication with the traveller to ensure their wellbeing.
  • Enhanced Traveller Safety features: Sam will soon recognise the user’s location via a blend of itinerary information and GPS and match this to any critical incidents, triggering real time relevant alerts with an ability to respond with appropriate action for the individual traveller.
  • Deeper integration: Sam currently integrates with many leading service providers including Uber, Lyft and Certify, and is in the process of growing its integration with global travel suppliers.