Business travel trends 2018 include AI and better trip personalisation

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Egencia, the business travel arm of the Expedia group, expects emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to play an even bigger role in 2018.

“Messaging, bots, and voice search, all fueled by AI will drive a new wave of search and booking habits going forward,” said Jean Noel Lau Keng Lun, senior director product marketing at Egencia.

“We already see this broadly in the leisure travel field and more and more taking over in business travel as well. One example is chat-powered customer service, which we expect to become integral to travel planning. By blending human-and-artificial-intelligence powered technology, travel agencies and services now have the potential to provide travellers with an unprecedented combination of convenience and contextual relevance.”

Business travellers are also looking forward to emerging technologies with 41% believing that advanced AI will improve booking experiences. “Personalization plays an important role here”, Lau Keng Lun continues, “This is where AI provides real value: It can analyse huge amounts of data and determine patterns to give more personalised search results improving the booking experiences.

“For 2018, we see the need for such technologies to evolve further. AI has already enabled a range of apps, bots and software that bring personalisation to the traveller, making the whole travel process easier and therefore rising satisfaction. But we are still only scratching the surface of what AI can do.”

Another trend Egencia sees is that the lines of leisure and business travel become increasingly blurred, with more and more business travellers extending their trip to a personal vacation. “Blending business and pleasure into multi-purpose trips will influence preferences for hotel and flights,” Lau Keng Lun comments. “We see an increasing number of business travelers choosing home-sharing services for a business trip that is extended to a private stay. It gives the opportunity for local and authentic experiences.”

According to the 4th Business Travel and Technology Survey by Egencia, in the past year, 25% of UK business travellers have made use of a shared economy lodging service and a further 44% are considering it. “Sharing economy lodging services is a trend that might have started slowly in business travel, but it is here to stay.” Lau Keng Lun concludes.

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