What Machine Learning in Corporate Travel Means for People Teams
Aug 30, 2019

What Machine Learning in Corporate Travel Means for People Teams

Samantha Shankman

Technology & InnovationReturn to blog

People teams are tasked with keeping employees happy and productive -- and that includes on the road.

Members of the people team might not have occasion to travel often for work, but it is their responsibility to make sure that the employees who do travel feel valued by making their experience -- from booking to arrival and back home -- as comfortable and easy as possible.

Companies using outdated travel programs limit their growth and visibility. Their employees are frustrated by travel policy compliance demands. Even the best people teams can not negate the impact of the stress of frequent business travel, which comes at a cost to employees’ mental health, well-being, productivity, and loyalty.

The responsibility of managing bookings, delays, out-of-pocket expenses — and showing up to that deal-breaking meeting focused and ready to shine — is simply too much to ask of employees — especially when there is a better, more effective, and elegant option available.

Smart leaders now recognize that investment in modern corporate travel solutions and innovative corporate travel tools that put travelers first is good for business and the bottom line.

Empowered, well-rested employees are better positioned to succeed, to take on more responsibility, and grow within their role. AI-powered technology that takes the pain out business travel increases job satisfaction, boosts recruitment objectives, and builds employee retention.

Empowering travelers isn’t difficult today.

With machine learning, smart corporate travel solutions give employees the ability to choose the best hotels for their tastes and responsibilities, select the airlines that best build their frequent-flier miles and loyalty status, and book the best flights that fit within their schedule.

A machine learning-powered corporate travel booking solution is able to predict the options your travelers are most likely to book. It surfaces options that suit each individual’s preferences and circumstances because they learn from the aggregate of a traveler’s inventory selections, continuously improving the in-app search experience to reduce booking times and make booking easier.

TripActions takes machine learning a step further, recognizing roadblocks in the traveler booking and support experiences to supplement or trigger live human assistance. It also balances those personalized results with median price per booking and creates easy-to-understand dynamic policies that are tailored to put cost-conscious guardrails around each individual search.

A personalized booking experience that delivers the most relevant, in-policy results faster is a critical part to starting off a business trip on a high note. The ability to proactively anticipate travel challenges saves employees’ energy and minimizes frustration, letting them focus on being the most productive and efficient leader possible, so that they also end the business trip on a high note.

Outside of the primary booking and support functions, there are other features that quietly but significantly enhance the traveler experience.

Making it easy to integrate loyalty programs directly into the TripActions app not only rewards employees for their travel, but gives them choice over which airline they book and how that choice benefits their personal life. Encouraging travelers to join a membership program can also provide additional perks such as upgrades and lounge access that makes air travel less stressful and more enjoyable.

It is also critical that employees always have the option to book a hotel on a company credit card rather than pay for it upfront. Employers empower travelers by providing them choice without making them literally pay for it. Through TripActions, employees can select from hundreds of hotels and decide whether to book a room that can be paid for directly by the company or paid for upon arrival — and then later be expensed for reimbursement.

People teams can also help employees and their managers strike a balance between work priorities and personal lives. It is important that evening and weekend travel is kept to a minimum whenever possible so employees can travel, work well, and know that their private time is respected. When people teams can trust that their corporate travel tools are working for them, they can empower travelers to choose those dates and times for themselves.

Additional features that stand alongside an AI-empowered corporate booking solution can be as simple as ride-sharing integrations and incentives to book rooms that beat the average rate. TripActions allows users to book a Lyft or Uber directly through the app and integrates rewards such as Amazon gift cards and dollars towards future personal travel for smart, cost-saving business booking decisions.

Aside from the ease of booking and respect for choice, keeping travelers safe is truly the most important factor when selecting a modern corporate travel solution.

Duty of care refers to a company’s responsibility to keep employees safe and take all precautions surrounding business travel. In light of national and global attacks and disasters, this must remain a top priority for any people team whose colleagues travel for work. Data, procedures, and human support all play an important role.

A previous report from GBTA found that 3 in 5 travel managers expected travelers to contact them in a crisis, whereas 58 percent of travelers said they would contact their supervisor first. This illustrates a dissonance between between teams’ expectations, and no central agreed upon process should things go wrong.

Machine-learning technology changes this. With modern corporate travel solutions, people teams can get in touch with their employees anywhere, anytime. They can locate and communicate with employees immediately in case of an incident. It also supports travelers. This technology leverages 24/7/365 communication and updated business traveler data, so employees can reach out with a single message and instantly communicate their distress.

Although these are all important considerations for your business travelers currently on the road, AI-empowered technology also plays an important role in recruitment and retention.

Almost one third of employees accept jobs due to the travel opportunities offered. And more than one third of professionals would pursue other job opportunities if there’s an opportunity to travel more often - a figure that rises to 46 percent among 18-34 year olds, according to a Booking.com survey.

Almost four in five employees would prefer new or additional benefits such as travel perks over a pay increase, according to data from employer review site Glassdoor.

Travel costs go beyond flights and meals. Total travel cost takes into account the human impact of travel. Machine-learning optimizes corporate travel booking and provides new solutions that emphasizes employee satisfaction as much as cost control.

Business travel is an overlooked opportunity to improve employee satisfaction or onboard your most valuable perspectives. Flexible travel policies, supported by AI-empowered booking solutions, is considered an essential workplace benefit and one that will keep great employees at work and get promising perspectives onboard.

It’s crucial for forward-thinking, growth-focused organizations to recognize the opportunities for AI in corporate travel. To learn more about how machine learning is revolutionizing corporate travel, download the TripActions ebook “Behind the Buzzwords: How Machine Learning is Improving Corporate Travel.”

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