Artificial Intelligence and Business Travel

Jumping man on phone

Welcome to your 24/7 personal travel assistant


Every time you take a business trip, artificial intelligence (AI) is working to make your travel safer and more comfortable. And, according to Oversight Systems, when companies use AI to arrange travel they can expect a 70% improvement in travel and expense compliance.

That’s because AI can retain and process the already widely available traveller data, then learn from new information inputs to seamlessly track details, create clever solutions and predict trends. That frees people up to do what they do best: connect with and support other humans.

Meet Sam - FCM Travel Solutions chatbot: where AI and business travel collide

Sam, which stands for Smart Assistant for Mobile, is a digital assistant app designed around the needs of busy travellers. With Sam, users have their travel information at their fingertips 24/7, while the app’s clever AI-powered technology enhances their whole experience.

It’s an industry first, and a game changer for clients of FCM Travel Solutions.

Imagine you’ve just arrived at an airport. Sam lets you know if your departure gate or if your flight time has changed. Once you land, Sam tells you where to collect your bags, suggests restaurants, alerts you about traffic delays and more. If you haven’t visited this city before, it will supply you with a guide on local pricing, tipping and other customs. If you need to change a booking, Sam will connect you to an AI enhanced Online Booking Tool, which takes into account everything from your previous choices and corporate travel policies. Bottomline? Sam takes the stress out of a trip, positively impacting the traveller’s wellbeing, so they can focus on the destination and the business at hand.

It means this friendly little bot can make a huge difference to a journey, making personalised and smart suggestions. Sam was always intended to enhance rather than replace humans. The goal was to create a tool that would centralise all of the traveller’s choices, and take care of repetitive tasks. This would then free up FCM Travel Managers to focus more on detailed requests and challenges.

Human-like simplicity

Sam uses the data already found in the travel ecosystem, plus machine learning and natural language processing. While historically bots have a reputation for being clunky to use, Sam is different. In fact, Sam is specifically designed to be nice to have around. Its personality is based on one FCM consultant, known for her warmth and humour. It makes jokes, offers interesting facts – and feels like chatting to someone over Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. Its focus on personality and ease of use saw it awarded ‘best user experience’ at the 2019 Mumbrella Travel Marketing Awards in Sydney.

Behind the personality is the bot’s powerful capacity to process huge quantities of data and take into account a myriad of options, factors and preferences – very, very quickly. Those smarts meant Sam took out the GTMC Innovation Award, which recognises original technology that enhances productivity and efficiency for travellers.

Learning smarts

Sam always begins with some information about you, but gets smarter and smarter as time goes on. It notices where you’ve been before, and what your past choices have been. For example, if you’ve never needed transport to hotels, it’ll eventually stop offering it. When you need a human to take over, Sam will also seamlessly connect you to your Travel Manager. The bot needs a mobile or Wi-Fi connection to access new data, use the live chat or receive alerts, but will continue to store data offline.

What’s next for AI and travel with FCM?

Sam has already proved immensely popular globally, with nearly 13,000 active users and 2,500 new sign-ups a month. We hear from travellers how they’ve been “saved by Sam” or have built an “emotional connection” to it. In a recent NPS survey, “80% of the users scored Sam as high as 9 or 10.” Soon Sam will be able to check in on your behalf, share itineraries with other users, and enhance your safety by alerting the travel arranger of emergencies, disasters or cancellations.

Sam for Travel Arrangers – the latest iteration of FCM’s smart mobile assistant will also make Travel Managers’ lives easier. They’ll be able to use the app to track their travellers’ journeys, so they can be on hand to resolve issues instantly.

Sam Community – This is a world-first community for travellers who use chatbot assistants. Here they’ll be able to share tips and advice with a global community of business travellers.

And on into the future

As AI becomes more sophisticated, Sam will become even better at predicting travel needs, delivering better route bookings, an end-to-end process, and a far better experience. Sam will help companies keep tabs on costs by making full use of loyalty programmes and adhering to traveller policies.

We don’t quite have Rosie from the Jetsons yet, but when it comes to travel, Sam comes pretty close.

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