Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel – The Future Is Here.

Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel is a much-discussed topic in Corporate Management circles today. It is about to completely change the face of Business Travel. There is even talk, that Travel Management Companies (TMCs) could become extinct by 2030. I do not believe that. There will always be a role for the innovative TMC to play, but the time has come for TMCs to once again innovate to survive.

Artificial Intelligence is Poised to Change Everything
Artificial Intelligence is Poised to Change Everything

The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) is rewriting the rules. With predictive analytics, natural language processing, and data mining, AI is revolutionising the entire travel process. From company policy to billing the client company. Let’s look at what changes are in the pipeline. AI is about to turn Business Travel upside down.

The Corporate Travel Policy

The Corporate Travel Policy should rightly be the bible of a company’s business travel. It should be the very core of the why, how, when and where of employees’ travel. I do not intend to go through the A to Z of the Corporate Travel Policy. If you would like to read more about it, please click here to read my article: How to Write an Effective Corporate Travel Policy

Artificial Intelligence Will Take Control in Business Travel

AI will in the near future, take effective control of the Travel Policy. The best part is that companies will not be responsible for creating one themselves. It will become part of the TMCs’ service offering. Even as you read, the major TMCs are already working on recreating the whole process.

AI-powered tools can analyse vast amounts of data. AI will assist in creating policies that cater to individual preferences while adhering to budget constraints. AI will be able to analyse the client’s business needs and objectives, travel budgets etc. Everything will be done with meetings between the client Company’s Travel Manager and TMC Client Account Manager during the implementation process. 

The TMC will be able to create a Travel Policy that will be custom-tailored for each client company. All the company’s travel rules and processes will have been taken into consideration automatically by Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel. Companies may still need a ‘template’ to check whether AI has done a good job of the Travel Policy. Here, my earlier article on “How to Write an Effective Travel Policy,” will come in handy.

Ordering, Booking and Documentation – All done By Artificial Intelligence

The process of ordering, booking and documentation is the very core of the TMCs’ offering to their clients. This could in the near future, become a completely automated process.

As soon as your employee advises the TMC that he is going to Frankfurt for a meeting (which can be done through an email or voice), from 17th to 20th July, AI will take over the whole process. 

Making Travel Reservations - a Thing of the Past
Making Travel Reservations – a Thing of the Past

A will already know what class of travel the employee is entitled to, and the company’s preferred airlines. To initiate bookings AI will also take into consideration the employee’s seat and meal preferences. It will automatically select a hotel that is closest to the venue of the meeting. Everything will be done according to the company’s Travel Policy. 

Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel will be able to analyse multiple variables to find the best options for flights and accommodations. It can automatically rebook a flight or hotel if a better deal appears. That will provide additional savings and efficiency for both the traveller and the company.

The traveller will receive a complete itinerary together with confirmations and necessary documentation. If a traveller needs a visa for the visit, AI will automatically inform the person. Alternatively, a person within a company who is responsible for organising visas can be notified.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel – Reporting to Airlines and BSP

Accurate reporting to airlines and the Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) is critical for ensuring smooth business operations. Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel can automate this process, enhancing accuracy and efficiency. It can monitor ticket sales, calculate commissions, and produce accurate reports in real-time.

Furthermore, AI can provide predictive insights on sales trends, helping airlines and BSP make informed decisions. It can also identify fraudulent transactions, contributing to enhanced security and compliance all around.

Billing the Client Company

AI will simplify the complex task of billing the client company. It will be able to automatically track expenses, categorise them, and generate detailed invoices. The capability of AI to accurately analyse huge amounts of data in real-time ensures error-free billing. It will thereby eliminate disputes and foster trust between the TMC and the client.

Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel will be able to provide valuable insights into spending patterns. It will help the client company to better manage its travel budget and identify potential areas of savings. This will include travel service providers like Airlines, Hotels Car Rental companies etc.

Business Travel Related Auxiliary Services

Value Added Tax Refunds for Business Travel
VAT Refunds for Business Travel

The AI revolution will also affect other Business Travel related services. Take the Business Travel VAT refund process for instance. With AI, the hotel will already know which VAT refund company handles the claims of the traveller’s company.

Hotel systems could be programmed to trigger the sending of an electronic copy of the client invoice to the VAT refund company. That could automatically kick off the VAT refund recovery application process. This will result in fewer delays, quicker recovery and optimisation of savings for the client company.

How Will The Industry Be Affected By The Rapid Development of Artificial Intelligence?

The whole Travel Industry is on the verge of dramatic change. One cannot over-emphasise this more. Business Travel Management will undergo major changes in every aspect of the business. Here are some of the changes that are in the process of happening:

AI-powered Chatbots – Customer Service

AI-powered chatbots are already being used by airlines to provide 24/7 customer support. These chatbots can respond to common queries, assist with bookings, and handle complaints, reducing the need for human intervention.

Dynamic Pricing of Tickets Through Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel

Ticket pricing will in future, become a very dynamic feature. The Economic laws of Demand and Supply will take over in the AI processes. Pricing will very much depend on how many vacant seats an airline will have on any given segment of travel. Of course, holiday and Leisure travel will have its role in the dynamic pricing of the future. Such pricing processes will help in optimising revenues for airlines while offering competitive prices to business travellers and preferred companies. Click to read my article on how Artificial Intelligence will affect Airline Inventory control and Pricing.

Flight Schedules – Artificial Intelligence and Optimisation

AI in Optimisation of Flight Schedules
AI in Optimisation of Flight Schedules

One of the most promising applications of AI in airline scheduling is the optimisation of flight schedules. They will be based on historical and real-time data. AI will be able to analyse numerous variables such as passenger demand, aircraft availability, crew schedules, and even weather patterns. It will help to create optimal flight schedules. This will lead to maximised aircraft utilisation, minimised delays, enhanced customer service and significant cost savings for all concerned.

Onboard Catering – How AI can increase efficiencies

Flight catering already gets real-time information from the GDSs and Airline computer systems. If these are integrated with check-in systems, more last-minute changes can be handled through AI without any human intervention. This will result in savings for airlines or result in the correct upload for every class of cabin onboard.

Real-Time Adjustments

Unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather, technical issues, or changes in demand, often require airlines to change/modify their seat configurations, aircraft utilised or even schedules at short notice. AI can help make these adjustments more efficient. By analysing real-time data, AI can suggest the best alternatives to minimise disruptions. This capability is crucial for maintaining customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analysis

AI can leverage predictive analytics to forecast future demand for different routes at different times. This will help airlines adjust their schedules in advance to ensure they have the right capacity to meet demand. Overbooking or under-utilisation of aircraft capacity can be avoided.

Crew Scheduling

AI can also play a significant role in optimising crew schedules. By considering variables such as duty hours, rest periods, and training requirements, AI can create efficient and compliant crew schedules. This will lead to improved crew satisfaction and reduced operational costs.

Predictive Maintenance Best Handled by Artificial Intelligence

Airlines will be using AI to predict potential maintenance issues before they cause delays or cancellations. Today AI can analyse data from numerous sensors on an aircraft. It can identify patterns that humans might miss. Consequently, airlines will be able to address problems before they become serious. This leads to improved operational efficiency and better customer satisfaction.

How will Airports be affected by Artificial Intelligence?

Biometrics and Facial Recognition
Biometrics and Facial Recognition

The whole airport experience is about to become a more pleasurable and less stressful process for all travellers. Of course, business travellers will continue to enjoy a privileged position. 

Biometrics will begin to play a more facilitative role in the whole process from check-in to security. Face recognition will be used more and more at different passenger touchpoints at airports. This could include lounge entry, related privileges and aircraft boarding processes.

Impact of Artificial Intelligence On Global Distribution Supply Companies

As we continue to harness the power of AI, its influence on various industries, including Business Travel and global distribution, is becoming more pronounced. In the near future, several sectors connected with Business Travel are set to undergo significant changes as a result of AI.

Corporate Travel Management Companies

AI will play a transformative role in Travel Management Companies like American Express Global Business Travel, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and BCD Travel. Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel can automate and streamline various processes like policy compliance, reporting, and billing. TMCs will be able to provide more strategic insights into a client company’s Travel spend. It will optimise their service offerings based on travel trends and client preferences.

Global Distribution Systems (GDS) Providers

Global Distribution System providers such as Amadeus, Sabre, Galileo, Travelport etc., play a crucial role in the travel industry by connecting travel service providers with travel sellers. AI can help these companies improve their offerings by providing more accurate and personalised options to the end-users.

This will probably be the one area that will see the most amount of changes. GDS companies have been way ahead of other developments in the business. However, more rapid integration will have to take place. All systems have to talk together to provide a cohesive and comprehensive product.

Many TMCs have been slow to implement the more advanced offering that should easily be possible. The AI revolution will kick off so many processes. Travel Management Companies will have to fall in line with all the reformation that AI will bring in. Change is inevitable. All service providers will have to fall in line for the ultimate benefit of the traveller and client companies. Failure to do so will cause them to relinquish their own positions in the supply chain. AI will roll on, come what may.

Who Is Already Blazing the Trail?

Many different companies are already very busy at work with AI. The main ones that will drive the AI revolution will be Online Travel Companies, Airlines, TMCs, Hotels, Car Rental companies and Global Distribution System (GDS) providers, just to name a few. 

What Technology-Related Companies will be Involved?

Many diverse companies will be involved in creating the AI-driven future of Business Travel. Among them are probably IBM, Google, OpenAI, Amadeus, SalesForce, Expensify and others. It’s important to note that the field is rapidly evolving. Over the next 18 months, we can expect to see new entrants into the market. Innovative applications of AI will continue to transform Business Travel.

Human Resources – Will Artificial Intelligence Cause Job Loss?

One negative result of the AI role in the whole Travel industry will certainly result in some job losses. Companies will become leaner, more efficient and even more service oriented.

The Company’s Travel Booker and the TMC’s Travel Advisor could become redundant. It is inevitable. When a machine can do the job of managing travel more efficiently than a human being, then that job will have to go. There will however be customer touch-points where human involvement will be crucial. The human touch where required, will never become redundant.

Mid-level and higher management in TMCs will need to play a vital role in the integration of computer systems. Such work cannot happen with IT personnel being put in charge of various projects. Travel Leadership teams will play a vital role in guiding IT teams and making it all happen. Once that is done, systems must be regularly monitored to ensure they deliver to customer requirements.

Will all of the development need large additional investment?

A major portion of the work has already been done by GDS companies. GDSs can already handle the entire process of handling booking and documentation. They can also take care of mid and back-office functions. On the customer side, GDSs can deliver a seamless process to cover all the documentation processes.

Traditionally, the entire provision of Business Travel services has been segmented into three distinct areas of the business. First, Sales and Implementation; second, Operations and Reporting; and third, Finance to handle Billing and payments. Currently, most Travel companies in many parts of the world handle all of this through entirely different systems. The only exceptions are the major TMCs.

All of this cannot come together on its own. They cannot become a turn-key project for Information Technology departments. Senior travel management will need to be involved in the whole process.

There will however be integration challenges to bring it all together. TMCs will also have to invest in implementation processes and the merging of client data into the GDS seamlessly. The process will have to be handled by the TMC. All of the above may require additional investment on the part of the TMC. Leading TMCs already have all of this covered.

Artificial Intelligence – Definitely the Future of Business Travel

AI Will Lead to a New Era in Business Travel
AI Will Lead to a New Era in Business Travel

In conclusion, AI is already playing a transformative role in Business Travel management. We are about to witness major changes. It is not just about automation; it is about intelligent automation. By harnessing the power of AI, businesses can personalise travel experiences, streamline operations, improve compliance, and make cost-effective decisions. This technology is not just improving Business Travel today, but it is shaping its future.

From company policies to client billing, Artificial Intelligence in Business Travel is poised to become the bedrock of the Business Travel sector. Increased adoption of AI will lead to a new era in Business Travel. It will be characterised by enhanced efficiency, personalised experiences, and data-driven decisions. Inevitably, Travel Management Companies must invest in the right technologies and skills to leverage the full potential of AI. The future of Business Travel is here, and it is intelligent.

© Mano Chandra Dhas

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  1. Glen Fonseca


    Mano.. AI is the way to go into the future for sure and with your vast experience as a Senior Manager in AZ and EK, in both Corporate and Retail as well as Call Centres, you have highlighted the benefits in a way only you can !

  2. Ganesh Iyer


    Nice thoughtfully researched and compiled article, Mano!
    What are the perceived risks of hacking of customer data with AI involved in the financial transactions, I wonder.

    • Reply

      Thank you for flagging Security, Ganesh. Security of customers’ data is high on everyone’s list. Some AI companies that were moving with astonishing speed seem to be slowing down even as everyone was jumping on to the band-wagon. Enter: the Lawy Makers. They have usually been rather slow to come up with any required legislation in any situation. I feel customer requirements will drive things back to the speed at which they would like to see progress. This is very much a wait-and-see area.

  3. Pari Chandna


    Very informative article Mano. You have written it so well.. giving a detailed look at AI impact on Business Travel.

  4. Keith Longstaff


    A well thought out piece comprehensively covering the many aspects of the relationships between AI and travel. Of course there will be other applications which will be uncovered during the discovery process. It is essential that travel companies fully embrace AI or they risk falling off the inevitable projected path .

    • Reply

      Thank you, Keith! A comment from a respected SVP of the Emirates Airlines Group is valued and appreciated. Totally agree with your comments, keith. There will be other applications waiting to be discovered. I feel pretty sure that Google and Microsoft will throw their hats in! The next decade promises to be as exciting as the late 90s, when computers became so much part of our processes. This wave promises to be much, much bigger.

  5. Reply

    I can imagine talking to Alexa, Siri, Kayak, Chase Sapphire Travel, etc. and say something like: “Book me a trip to Tbilisi, Georgia, I want to stay 5 days, and on the way back I want to fly to Istanbul via Batumi, staying 2 nights in Batumi, in a beach hotel, but less expensive than the Hyatt. In Istanbul, I want at least a 12 hour layover, but not 2 full days because I can sleep on the plane back. In Tbilisi, I want to stay at the Accor. Fly me business class across the Atlantic, but I can endure economy for the short hops,” and having the AI travel agent give me a bunch of different options within a few seconds. Travel platforms may then compete based on how good their AI is.

    • Reply

      Correct as you always are, Loren. That is a long list of requirements, but perfectly logical. For AI to work seamlessly in such cases, there will also need to be agreements (and arrangements), between Alexa, Siri etc and AI companies. The agreements can usually be complex and linking of systems can become also become complex. It can however be done and the time to deliver it is not too far away. Perhaps withing the period of the next decade?

      The pace at which Artificial Intelligence is developing has been startling, even though there has been some back pedalling due to legal cases that have already popped up! To stitch AI into any business will require Travel businesses to go into multiple legal agreements. That may be the only spanner in the works. Travel bussinesses will have to fall in line with the requirements of clients. Major TMCs are already working on various AI systems even as you read!

  6. Krish Murti


    Mano, Thank you for offering a comprehensive, detailed look at the impacts of emerging AI usage in Business Travel. It is indeed food for thought.

    Two questions come to mind right away; others are probably not far behind:

    Will AI help a company handle booking, updating, and managing mixed group travel — such as a Department Director, a Team Leader and five Engineers going to a conference / client site / supply chain audit — where the employees have varying entitlements regarding flights, hotel accommodation, rental car, etc?
    Will AI offer a (paid) option to help passengers deal with flight disruptions?

    • Reply

      Very interesting and pertinent questions, Krish. I would personally think that if all their requirements were different when it comes to flights, hotel accommodations etc., they would be best booked differently. If they had the flights in common (at least on the outbound leg), they could be booked together. That would give Artificil Intelligence (AI) reason to book them together which would also ussually be in keeping with the Company’s Travel Policy as well.

      The complexity, will go back to the days when we handled everything manually and the creation of a Passenger Name Record (PNR), where we would try to keep the whole booking of any group together. If part of the group wanted to travel differently (even if it was only with the return segment), we would either split the PNR or create separate PNRs for the people wanting to travel differently. You can see the core rational behind Travel booking will best remin as is. 🙂

      Coming to flight disruptions, it is ALWAYS the responsibility of the airline that causes the delay. Different airlines have different regulations on the subject. That is where it could get a little complicated with USA airlines being less ready to fork out the expenses. Expenses could also be complicated calculations. If you have an onward flight on the same airline, the airline will have to reschedule the flight to link with the correct arrival time, and compensate you for the delay. It would usually have to cover meal expenses. If you had a low fare booked on the onward flight and you would lose money in rebooking, you’d have a case for compensation. Very few airlines compensate straight away. Some USA airlines do that as part of their routine procedures. It could be a meal coupon or if you have to go to a hotel, the airline may provide that facility automatically. Often, you have to ask.

      Most cases for compensation would have to be made after you return to base, in the form of a written claim (these days some airlines have online formats available). In settling such claims, some airlines act as if it is all money coming out of their pockets. In most cases it is not. The airlines’ own insurance policies take care of such claims.

      • Susheel


        Very interesting that claims like this are taken care of by insurance policies… I wasn’t aware of it.

        • Reply

          People generally seem unaware. Airlines do not advertise the fact – probably because it will eventually affect their insurance costs. As a person who has worked for Airlines as well, I can tell you that I was personally involved in the settlement of many claims. We always ended up with another happy and loyal client! 🙂

      • Krish Murti



        There is so much to learn about Business Travel (at least for us civilians😊)! I find it very interesting that airlines carry insurance against the costs of passenger claims arising out of flight disruptions. Now, I am aware of the travel insurance that many passengers purchase for personal travel. Do companies purchase similar insurance for employee business travel (which involves higher costs)?

        Once you start digging into any field, there is so much to learn.

        • Reply


          Airlines carry all sorts of insurance without which they run the risk of going kaput! 🙂 I would always advise a passenger to buy personal travel insurance. Even though you could file claims with airlines, one can never be sure of the outcome of such claims. Eventual settlement may depend on a manager sitting in the airlines headquarters, wherever that may be. These days you have a wide variety of choices with online insurance companies. You can sit at your desk at home and insure yourself for your next trip.

          With regard to Business Travel for companies, most companies have some sort of insurance for their travellers. The levels differ. I would advise businesses to put all their Travel Purchases through a company Purchasing Card with the programmes of one of the leading credit card companies. Travellers will be automatically insured for any travel purchased through the Card. It would make sense for the company to read through the small print before they sign the agreement with the card company. If I were them, I would specially look at medical coverage, flight disruption and baggage loss (the main areas of concern). I wrote an article on the subject a few years ago: Travel Insurance for Business Travel – Free?

          With regard to personal travel many travellers are unaware that any travel purchased through one of the leading credit cards, automatically insures them. This is not something many card companies publicise very much, for reasons of their own! 🙂

  7. Fahim


    Great article Mano.
    Very informative and detailed covering all aspects of impact.

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