What will the future of business travel be like?

New technologies are constantly changing traveller experience. Overview of what awaits travellers in the coming years.

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More connected, more personalised, and more seamless. Thanks to digital technologies, by 2020 business travel promises to be an experience that's both safe and intuitive. Let’s take a look. 

Travellers will be better assisted (and less stressed)

Will business travellers be tech-savvy? No, not everyone. Although in the years ahead, even those who are most reluctant will gradually be won over by apps and the use of their personal data by artificial intelligence. Why? Because they're all looking for the same thing: business travel that's fast and seamless. That's why already today 92%* of business travellers are prepared to share their biometric data if it means they can pass through security checkpoints at the station or airport more quickly. And 87%* are for geolocation if it allows them to receive useful notifications about their trip (such as delays and weather information).
  • Travellers’ demands are set to be met within a matter of months, as personal bot assistants are on their way to answer all their questions about their trip and their schedule. This service is already provided by Destygo and Sam; startups specialising in conversational AI to provide travel support for business travellers. Travellers receive information about travel conditions and are guided around public transport while also receiving a concierge service. And all via a simple chat.

  • Another example of something that’s set to become standard is Zoe; a personal travel assistant for business travellers created by Club Mandaley, which provides access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world. Zoe has been designed to alert travellers in real-time of flight delays and cancellations, changes to boarding gate numbers, or baggage reclaim points. It can, if necessary, also make last-minute reservations via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp! 

A personalised relationship with hotels

We already know that business travellers are looking for a customised service that takes into account their preferences and accommodation requirements. In the future, concierge services and assistants are set to take care of the business traveller's every need.
  • Hoteliers are providing automated concierge services, along the lines of Guidewiser, which can be used on Messenger or WhatsApp. It’s really easy; a virtual conversational assistant, replies directly to guests' questions in real-time according to the data it holds. For its part, The Colossal Factory has already rolled out Quicktext, a tool for reinventing how hotels and their guests interact using instant messaging tools, Live Chat, SMS, AI and chatbots.

  • Virtual voice assistants will be found in every room to cater for guests' requirements, whether for controlling automated room features (for adjusting lighting or room temperature for example), providing stay-related details (weather, meeting times and similar), or bellboy services. Several hotel groups are, moreover, currently trialling integrating Google Assistant and Google Home into their own system to provide these functions. Alexa and Amazon Echo are also set to have their place. 

  • On another note, tasks such as check-in and check-out will be organised totally differently and completed using an electronic key on a guest's smartphone or simply through face recognition. This is an area that 1Check and RoomChecking are already working on. 

A smoother airport experience

In the future, taking a plane will be a simple formality involving merely the time it takes to get to check-in from the airport entrance door without any queues.
  • No time to park? Not to worry, technology will do it for you. Stan, a robot designed by Stanley Robotic (France), can raise your vehicle slightly and safely park it in the carpark. This service, tested at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport over five months in 2017, is currently in operation at Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport. Next step: development at European level and worldwide.

  • At the airport, biometrics and blockchain are revolutionising traveller experience. On the one hand, biometrics - that is all data processing techniques that make it possible to automatically recognise a person using their physical or biological traits - are being fine-tuned. Air France has just received an award for its biometric boarding pass project, which will be introduced as of this autumn at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle. The principle is simple: at check-in, a camera takes a photo of each passenger and encodes their facial biometric data in the barcode of their boarding pass, which is then issued on paper. Other cameras later authenticate the passenger's identity at each security point.

  • Then there is blockchain, technology that makes it possible to exchange data without a centralised intermediary, which can also help streamline traveller experience. A delay? An insurance company that uses blockchain, such as Axa with its fizzy platform, can process refunds automatically and in a totally transparent way.  

Moving towards new modes of travel?

Finally, let’s end with what may still seem like science fiction, but which could be reality tomorrow with travel means of the coming years already at the trial or manufacturing stage. The Hyperloop, a train dreamt up by Elon Musk that promises to transport passengers at the speed of a plane (with a top speed of 1100km/h), but with the frequency of an underground service, is already being tested in several regions of the globe, including the countryside around Limoges and Toulouse. As for the first autonomous cars, which will take you to your destination without a driver, they may well be on France's roads by 2020 if the legal framework currently being studied is finalised. This means that travel is set to become easier still.

*Figures: FCM Travel Solutions et Déplacements Pros 

Published by Magali on 04/12/2018 Photo credit: © Scharfsinn86

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