As a human race we are avid consumers of predictions, from those of the Oracle of Delphi to horoscopes, betting odds and the weather forecast. For centuries we have worked to bring together science and human intelligence to place an educated guess against certain outcomes.
This desire to predict the future is seen frequently in business travel. Being able to ‘know’ an outcome ahead of time removes uncertainty, which in turn reduces stress and brings greater ease to an individual’s travelling experience.
TRANSFORMING TRAVELLER EXPERIENCE
For instance, at one point in time, booking a connecting flight was a bit of a gamble. The time window needed to ensure you didn’t end up stranded at the mid-way point of your journey was a serious drain on productivity. Not to mention the impact on well-being and travel experience when spending hours waiting in an airport.
Today however, we benefit from being able to check the on time record of potential flight options with a quick and easy, red, amber, green rating within R&M/Book. Not only does this prediction tool enable you to select the flight least likely to result in a missed meeting or loss of productivity. When it comes to connections, through a series of data sets, including how often a flight is delayed, weather predictions and time of year, we can know with a degree of certainty whether two flights are going to connect or not.
These nuggets of predictive intelligence transform our travel experiences and keep us safer on the move. For instance, live alerts following weather patterns may mean that the risk factor of an area is increased. In such a situation it’s advisable, based on patterns of evidence, that you put preparations in place to stay a little safer. Or even better, that your TMC does it for you, such as extending your hotel nights or booking an earlier flight to get you safely out of the path of the storm.
The challenge today is the volume of information. There are now so many events and corresponding alerts that without help from artificial intelligence it would be near impossible to process such a vast array of information and then work out what is relevant to the individual traveller in a timely manner. With the help of Machine Learning we can apply ‘intelligence’ to decide what does and does not matter to a traveller. Alerts become tailored and information remains meaningful.
AI in the form of business intelligence, also brings great benefit to those who manage travel programmes with the ability to quickly and easily test a scenario in order to consider the implications. For instance, being able to see what the impact would be of switching airline on a specific route or changing the travel class rules within your policy.
As traveller well-being continues to climb the corporate agenda, there is a greater than ever focus on ensuring that talent is taken care of to secure retention and AI plays a part. Algorithms can look at travel patterns such as frequency and distance combined with the type of travel, to create a ‘prediction’ of traveller fatigue.
THE ETHICS OF AI
With AI, we now have the tools and insight needed to reduce stress, health risks and talent attrition rates, but with the power of predictions, comes an ethical and moral obligation to ensure that these predictions are developed and used correctly.
After all, if we are teaching machines to think, we must be very careful to ensure that certain behaviours, such as bias, do not become part of their thought pattern. At Reed & Mackay when we develop Artificial Intelligence we take time to fully considered the consequences both good and bad.
AI is an incredibly powerful tool and we are only scratching the surface of the benefits it will bring to a managed travel programme. That’s why Reed & Mackay delivers intelligent human technology, world class talent supported by highly intelligent systems, for the ultimate balance of high tech and high touch.