With new technologies developing apace in every sector, how is this affecting business travel? BCD Travel took an in-depth look into this aspect of their business at a conference on digital transformation on 7 December.
Mobile applications, big data, machine learning, blockchain, chatbots, virtual reality and the Internet of Things (IoT) are all new technologies that are revolutionising various different sectors. Business travel is also undergoing change, as explained by systems director of BCD Travel Cédric Lefort in an interview with French website BusinessTravel. He then went on to explain how his company is drawing inspiration from AirBnB, Uber and Deliveroo to develop a project to digitise the services offered by agencies to better adapt to the new behavioural patterns of business travellers.
Improving offers thanks to IA
"Sourcing" (of partners) enables services to be personalised by recording traveller preferences. For BCD Travel, this technique can take a great deal from artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning. "[AI] can instantly make recommendations to a traveller, in whatever city they are in, on which hotels and parking to choose because the agency has partnerships with them," Lefort explains. It can also be used to send alerts if a traveller chooses a hotel that is not a partner of the agency.
Optimise data storage with blockchain
Blockchain is a new technology for the transmission and storage of information, and is enjoying particularly strong growth at the moment. In the hotel sector, it can provide dynamic contract management, better securitisation of data and also offer services such as transforming loyalty points into crypto-currency.
Chatbots to accompany travellers
Chatbots (conversational robots) have also carved out a niche in the business trip sector. While travellers may not yet be prepared to blindly trust them for bookings, they regularly use them to get information. Many companies, including AccorHotels and SNCF railways have already integrated a vocal assistant into their applications.
Immersive experiences courtesy of virtual reality
Virtual reality is also very much on the up and can offer customers experiences that are out of the ordinary, such as remote conferencing that gives one the impression of actually being present, as well as virtual hotel visits and seeing inside aeroplanes… The immersive experience could soon be further enhanced by the use of sensors to identify travellers and better target their preferences, according to Lefort.
Better traveller monitoring thanks to the Internet of Things
Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), it is now possible to monitor a traveller’s movements in more detail and ensure that "they have taken the right vehicle, got to the hotel etc." says Lefort. While some critics see this as tracking, the BCD Travel director counters that business travellers are working for a company and "are not meant to do anything and everything. If they go to a night club and break their leg, who is responsible?"
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