07 Jun 2018

AI to personalise business trips and make them safer

Business travellers think their trips could be improved by Artificial Intelligence-based technology but are reluctant about sharing some types of personal data.

A survey by expense and travel management firm SAP Concur found 52% of UK business travellers thought AI would make business trips safer through services such as predictive risk alerts around natural disasters.

While even more travellers (75%) said AI would help to make their journeys more personalised.

But despite these perceived benefits from AI, travellers were less willing to share certain types of personal data, particularly home addresses, which only 25% were prepared to share, followed by biometrics (27%) and phone numbers (33%).

They were more prepared to share information such as email addresses (54%), travel preferences (52%) and their gender (46%).

Chris Baker, senior vice president and managing director EMEA North, at SAP Concur, says:

“Business travellers foresee a lot of potential in how AI can power the next generation of travel. From safety to preference, AI will change the very core of the travel experience for the better.

“And yet, the results reveal a trust issue that could be detrimental to these visions becoming a reality.

“AI systems need data in order to learn. Without data they aren’t able to improve and, at the moment, it seems that people are not willing to share data – biometrics aside – that they happily swap via social platforms on the internet every day of the week.”

Automated expenses were seen as the being the most common AI-based improvement (23%) for business travellers, followed by automated recommended actions based on disruption, such as a cancelled flight (19%).

Other AI-enabled services mentioned by respondents included creating personalised restaurant recommendations (18%) and chatbots for travel bookings (12%).

Chatbots were also cited as one of the major AI-based platforms that travellers expected to use – ranking only behind voice assistants and language-capable robots.

“That 92% of respondents indicated that they had already interacted with some form of AI demonstrates how embedded the technology is becoming in everyday life,” said Baker. “The challenge now is to utilise these platforms in order to deliver tangible benefits to travellers.”

Baker adds that companies building AI-based systems had to “demonstrate that data privacy, protection and governance is at the core of their offering”.

“It’s their responsibility to show they can be trusted because unless they win consumers over, the scope of AI to deliver on user expectations will be fundamentally impinged.”

The research was put together through interviews with 527 business travellers in April 2018.

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