Corporate travel agencies are experiencing major transformations and challenges that affect the way they used to work, including factors such as the use of artificial intelligence, the way they communicate with customers, the range of pricing options available today, the importance of personalization, how to manage content and the reach of mobile phones, among others.
The corporate traveler is also changing. Currently, only 60% of companies implement travel policies, 52% of travelers book their own trips, and 42% prefer to use online travel agencies, Online Booking Tools (OBTs) or Metabooking sites.
Another factor to consider here is the generational shift. Today’s traveler wants their business travel to be shaped by the bleisure concept, with entertainment opportunities, where they can have free time for local experiences at their destination. In addition to this, they demand an interface that is easy, fast and practical to use.
New players are also appearing in the market. Travel startups are becoming more relevant and are gaining ground where 25% of travel startups are already entering the world of corporate travel by offering innovative solutions.
Recent research and The Beat on the investment priorities of business travel agencies paint this picture and points to how the way they communicate with customers is also changing. Next year, 25 of the 30 travel companies surveyed in this study plan to invest in contact center solutions. Omnichannel is the new trend where webchat, email, automated calls and text messages are now also used to talk to travel agents.
Customized chatbots like Amadeus’ Amanda are appearing in the country’s tourism companies. Leveraging advances in natural language processing and artificial intelligence, the robots open an automated communication and service channel for customers to inquire about policies, obtain real-time details of their trips, and even conduct travel transactions, either through text or voice-based systems such as Amazon Alexa, Facebook Messenger, Slack, SMS, and travel agency channels.
As for the use of mobile phones, this is no longer a novelty but rather the minimum requirement for corporate travel agencies. Here the opportunities are endless and range from including real-time itinerary information, booked hotels, flights, ground transportation, flight alerts and logging and destination information capabilities.
Content, on the other hand, remains key. IATA’s NDC initiative, which some of the world’s largest airlines are now beginning to adopt and scale, promises corporate enhancements and recognition, access to additional non-GDS content and a more dynamic and personalized retail experience.
Many business travel agents have recognized the impact that these consumer behavior trends and the demographic changes associated with human and technological development will have on their businesses. Improving agent productivity and providing high contact human service has become part of their core offering to meet consumer demands. They are also investing in driving customer-centric technology and improving interaction in all existing communication channels.
Business travelers want increasingly connected and automated experiences. So, as airlines offer greater personalization, business travel agents have the opportunity to maximize efficiency, boost productivity and improve passenger services with the support of enhanced technology. Amadeus is ready to provide its customers and the business traveler with an increasingly open, dynamic and connected experience that will accompany them at every stage of their itinerary and enable them to be ready to build the future of travel.