< PrevNext > AI's Journey to Add a Personal Touch to Business Travel Will Take Root By TravelBank co-founder & CEO Duke Chung / January 22, 2019 Share Buzzword or not, artificial intelligence will move beyond travel booking to all aspects of the travel experience from before booking to real-time itinerary changes to post-trip actions. But don't expect to see this truly personalized experience until 2025. No, 2019 isn't the year AI takes over the corporate travel industry, but it is the year AI lays the groundwork to bring a personal touch that will change the next 20 years of corporate travel.Chatbots are going to get smarter, but don't count out travel agents just yet: Conversational AI, particularly in chatbots and predictive text, already is being used for customer service. Chatbots and self-service options, preferred by Millennials, provide deeper information and are faster during high-volume events when airline travel agents aren't available. However, don't add travel agents to the list of jobs AI will eliminate. Instead, AI will empower travel agents to deliver more efficient and personal experiences. When chatbots interact with customers first, travel agents then can focus on providing better customer service.Machine learning and other types of AI will garner more attention: Right now, machine learning gathers and interprets data to draw conclusions about customers and make relevant recommendations. The technology is more meaningful when those systems have a lot of data and can collect even more information. Expense companies, for example, can capture approximately five times more data than travel-only software companies, according to internal TravelBank data analyzed in 2019, which is why we'll see more partnerships and consolidation in the space. Travel platforms that are constantly learning and understanding personal travel preferences and applying that to travelers' schedules are closer to automatic creation of full travel itineraries for business travelers. For example, if a travel management platform determines a user has SkyMiles status, it will present the traveler with recommended Delta flight results, including Comfort Plus and Delta One upgrade options.Expense reports will become the new fax machines: AI's impact on expense reports will come in stages. In the next year or two, AI will determine which new expense entry is a flight, another form of transportation, lodging or miscellaneous. When an expense is identified as a flight, for example, pre-approved settings from the internal team can improve the reimbursement process significantly, cutting the time an employee waits for payment. In five to 10 years, expense reports will require almost zero human oversight from either user or approver. Machine learning can tap GPS data to auto-fill categories and gather receipt information, and with mobile wallets, expense reports will just happen.This year is key to what corporate travel looks like in 10 years. And over the next 15 years, AI will be smart enough to book changes to preferred routes and hotels automatically based on profile and history; just recently, Google's AI labs trained a neural network to book a flight. When we look back at how we got there, 2019 will mark the turning point.