Travel buyers are seemingly not yet convinced on the influence of next generation technology

18 February, 2019

According to new Business Travel Show research, travel buyers are yet to be convinced by next generation technology. Approximately one fifth of the 134 European buyers polled believe that by 2022, bots, Blockchain and alternative realities (AR, VR, MR, XR) will ‘significantly improve booking, saving time and money’, but more than half claim it will have minimal to no impact on the industry over the next three years.

There appears to be a little more faith in the opportunities presented by artificial intelligence with 17% believing AI has the potential to ‘revolutionise’ the travel industry by 2022,. Additionally, one quarter feel it will ‘significantly enhance the traveller experience’ in that time, and just 39% believe it will have little or no impact.

Interestingly, the survey – which is part of the Business Travel Show’s ‘Travel 2022’ theme – also asked buyers how the industry will best survive the next three years. Despite the apparent nonchalance surrounding new technology, two thirds of those polled claim its survival will depend on innovation; just under a third (30%) believe it will be through evolution, while 4% think the sector needs a total reboot.

It could simply be a lack of knowledge or trust in evolving technologies, but the research highlights a potential need for travel buyers to be better educated to the value of next generation technologies. We Build Bots founder Paul Shepherd, argues that one of these new technologies, chatbots, can “transform” customer service, increase efficiencies and even help companies to save and make money, but only if they are “built and used correctly”.

“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,” he adds.

Over the next three years, he says that Natural Language Processing (NLP), the interaction between computers and human (natural) language, will continue to improve, which means that chatbots “will become easier and more intuitive to interact with”.

As well as this, he suggests the rise in voice technologies will continue to have a huge impact. “The possibilities of using voice are endless. Chatbots use of voice is improving and evolving consistently and going forward, we’re sure to see huge developments in this space,” he explains.

There are obvious benefits to using voice technology. Imagine being able to ask your smart home device to check you into your next flight and receiving your boarding pass directly into your inbox. Or alternatively, asking it to search for a holiday that meets your diverse parameters, such as during school holidays, a particular temperature and less than a four-hour flight away.

It is a firm belief that AI, blockchain, bots, augmented/virtual reality will transform travel management in the year’s ahead, but perhaps the (re)evolution will be slower than predicted as we allow the human mind to realise and then understand the potential. As this new research from Business Travel Show shows, buyers remain to be convinced by next generation technologies.

TABLE - What impact will next generation technology have on business travel by 2022?Source: Business Travel Show ‘Travel 2022’ survey