In the UAE, FCM Lab team has recently launched Sam, a proprietary next-generation “Smart Assistant for Mobile" that will create a totally new experience for the business traveler that supports their needs.
Most technology solutions in business travel focus on the needs of the corporate buyer and bookers, not the needs of the business traveller and their experience while travelling. Technology has traditionally focussed on functionality and tools that handle the booking, approval and reporting processes. Technology developments have also predominantly been driven by the need to maximise the value of a company’s business travel budget, reduce costs, and mandate travel policy compliance. The experience of the actual business traveller has frequently been a secondary priority.
Business travel can be a challenging process for travellers – upheavals caused by delays, rushing to the airport, packing the night before, time spent away from family, jetlag, all on top of the stresses of doing business and the purpose of the trip. Traveller friction can occur when employees are travelling too much, or they are having poor travel experiences in-trip.
Most travel management companies (TMCs) only support a business traveller reactively if they need a flight booking changed during the course of the trip, or to send them an impersonal/generic travel alert.
At FCM, we believe that there is a real need to proactively support the individual traveller at each stage of their trip, to give the traveller a much more enjoyable experience whilst on the move, and reduce the stresses and strains of travelling on business, whilst also supporting employers’ duty of care responsibilities.
In the UAE, we have therefore recently launched Sam, a proprietary next-generation “Smart Assistant for Mobile" that was developed by our FCM Lab team who have taken the latest innovations in artificial intelligence, messaging and chatbot technology (which are already familiar in the consumer world, for example Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S-Voice) and focussed purely on how Artificial Intelligence could be applied to business travel to create a truly useful app that didn’t replicate what the traveller can already do via other channels. The objective was to create a totally new experience for the business traveller that supports their needs.
Sam blends the artificial intelligence of a chatbot with the expertise of FCM’s travel consultant to deliver personalized, relevant information to the individual business traveller’s smartphone. The app supports business travellers with all aspects of travel via a conversational interface to make recommendations and perform actions that are relevant to their trip – everything from itinerary management, air and hotel bookings, online check-in, flight updates and local weather forecasts to security notifications, taxis and transfers and city guides and destination information. The relevance of messages that Sam exchanges with the user gives travellers their own ‘personal assistant’ on the move as Sam can query, process and respond to data from a multitude of sources and suppliers virtually instantly.
Sam has been very positively received by our clients and their travellers, who feel it represents a real step forward in the practical application of technology to create a truly different traveller experience. Many have commented that it is refreshing to see a TMC not only looking at the booking and reporting side of business travel, but also taking a holistic approach to the whole experience of the traveller.
However, Sam doesn’t replace the human touch entirely. Business travel is about people and our approach is still very much about personal service. Users of Sam can call or message our consultants via Sam’s chat interface at any time for live assistance on the go.
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