Should business travel managers trust algorithms?

The rise of data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) is driving a revolution in data-driven business travel and policy configuration. Advances in business travel algorithms have the potential to unlock significant time and cost savings for travel managers and travelers, by automatically detecting the most advantageous flights and hotel rooms and offering only as the most preferred travel options.

However, how much do, and even should, travel managers trust algorithms to provide them with reliable information that they can confidently use to make smart business decisions?

Ultimately, it’s up to tech companies to build trust in these algorithms and the AI-powered technology they power, to encourage travel managers to fully adopt them over time.

Technology is reshaping the business travel industry

The world is currently in a state of flux. COVID-19 remains a lingering unknown and unforeseen geopolitical conflicts have significant ramifications around the world.

As a result, as business travel recovers from its slump amid the pandemic, companies are still hesitant to pick up where they left off just a few years ago. In fact, according to SAP, most finance leaders (84%) say their company is not fully prepared for an increase in business travel in 2022.

For many, the key to greater travel confidence is having access to better knowledge every step of the way, even if plans change unexpectedly. Fortunately, advancements in technology are helping tour operators, managers and travelers achieve this.

Whether it’s more personalized schedule information, more accurate hotel recommendations, access to 24/7 AI-powered support, or updates real-time travel plans sent directly to the traveler’s phone, technology enables better decisions and offers elements of their journey – building trust at all levels.

Quality data is the key to reliable algorithms

When it comes to intelligent business travel planning, algorithms are now playing a central role in the process, and the development of advanced AI is helping to continuously create smoother travel experiences. That being said, algorithms can only be as strong as the data behind them.

Travel managers and reservation agents today need powerful tools that can use solid data to create smart experiences and opportunities like what-if scenarios and dynamic pricing structures.

The best travel management platform providers know this, which is why they invest in solutions that maximize vast sets of global data on everything from price and demand fluctuations to local weather events and traveler behavior in all segments of the industry.

The configuration of travel teams has changed Many travel teams are now much smaller than they were before the pandemic, as disparate groups come together for business-critical face-to-face interactions. As a result, we noticed that the potential benefits of dedicated travel algorithms and AI tools are even greater.

For example, travel managers can use AI to create policy recommendations based on a combination of their company size, needs, and expected annual spend, as well as what similar companies are doing, without having to doing painstaking research or designing entire policies from scratch. This approach can save a lot of time and resources, especially for small teams.

In a world full of constant uncertainty, business travel managers, planners and travelers need tools they can rely on to make fast, informed decisions wherever they are. The best algorithms allow them to do just that, drawing on large datasets to deliver important insights and recommendations where they’re needed most.

About the Author…

Axita Bhalsod is Senior Director of Analytics for Egencia.

Sharon D. Cole