Our smartphones and tablets go with us everywhere and are an essential part of everyday life. But have you considered how they're revolutinising your travel experience?
Whether we’re at work or play, mobile devices hold the key to smoother, simpler, more connected experiences. And with half of the UK population set to be working flexibly by 2020, businesses need mobile apps. The right tools can help companies stay one step ahead, and keep employees engaged and empowered. After all, if people bank, shop, date and organise their free time on their mobiles, it makes sense that they’re fully equipped when it comes to their career, too.
We spoke to Cesc Vilanova, Head of Product at Sam:], to get his thoughts on how AI and mobile are making waves in the travel tech space...
Where do you see artificial intelligence taking the travel industry in the next 10 years?
I think that AI can finally deliver the personalisation promises we've been hearing for years. In combination with machine learning and the huge amount of structured data we now have available, AI will finally make it possible for digital experiences to adapt to the unique preferences of a person.
In your opinion, what are the biggest benefits of AI to the business travel industry?
Besides personalisation, AI is leveraging advancements on Natural Language Processing (NLP) to revolutionise customer support. We are starting to see products which automatically respond up to 30% of the most common questions that would require human intervention otherwise. The benefits are quite obvious: immediate response times to repetitive and mechanical questions while giving more time to consultants to deal with the complicated stuff where a human makes the difference.
Do you feel that there are any areas in the business travel industry where AI is not being used to the best of its ability?
The customer support part is specially valuable, since it can directly impact the bottom line of any TMC. Implementing a good enough NLP based experience is quite tricky though, so this might explain why it hasn't been adopted yet at scale.
Do you have any personal examples where AI has been able to help you while traveling? If not in other areas of work or business?
The best examples I've seen, related with the customer service use case, are the ones provided by the Intercom platform (a platform used mostly by SAAS web applications). When interacting with this support platform using text queries, users normally receive high quality automated responses from a chatbot.
What would you say to people concerned about their privacy and sceptical about the benefits of chatbots?
Chatbots have been hyped too much. I don't think they will replace all apps, like some have said. But they are a great type of interface for digital products where communication is essential. Whether it's an assistant like Sam sending practical messages to the traveler based on their context or in any situation where a person can find the info she needs faster by typing or talking, than by using a conventional form.