By: Natasha Samuel, Director, Product Marketing at Amex GBT Egencia (Egencia™)
Picture this: It’s early morning, you’re scrolling through social media, and you’ve seen artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) mentioned approximately fifty times. All before the day has even begun! But not once has a company actually explained how it's used in their products or offer, and what benefit it brings their customers.
That’s why we’re breaking down five ways Egencia uses data to optimise business travel to enhance the user experience for travel managers and get real results.
1. To help with business travel approval
Problem: Setting up a business travel approval process can be time consuming and complex. Travel managers must consider business auditing needs to account for spend, and multiple variables across many travel options and locations—and that isn’t fun, or quick.
Solution: That’s where our trip approval recommendation tool comes in. It uses Machine Learning (ML) to automatically generate personalised settings for your travel approval process by analysing your company’s needs based on the industry you’re in, geographical location, the size of the company, projected annual spend and the number of travellers you have.
This ML model has been built with data from over 65,000 approval workflow combinations used by thousands of Amex GBT Egencia’s (Egencia™) customers around the world and finds the best practices to match your company’s profile.
And that’s not all—the approval process can be quickly implemented across online, offline and mobile app bookings.
2. To save money on hotel bookings at a given point in time
Problem: You really don’t have the time to keep adjusting hotel rate travel policies to reflect what’s happening in the local area. Rates are inflated when major events come to a city—such as a fashion week or major sales conferences—and it’s impossible to keep track of what’s happening and when to adjust pricing. And you’re either being very generous or not generous enough.
Most companies set static hotel rate caps in their travel policies. These are typically set once per year, and are rarely revisited to see if changes are needed. But as you might already know, this takes a lot of time and energy analysing previous years’ spend and average daily rate spend, as well as investigating local market rates to reach a suitable rate-per-night policy. Setting a fixed rate can also lead to missed savings if you don’t have the time to constantly research and update.
Solution: Egencia’s dynamic hotel rate cap policy feature uses data science to deliver even more personalisation and savings in customer travel programmes, automatically adjusting hotel rate caps based on the market median.
This data science model looks at market and customer behaviour and automatically adjusts the rate to adhere to your company’s travel policy—without you needing to lift a finger.1 And the result? Since early 2022 launch, Egencia has optimised 200k+ hotel bookings to deliver savings to customers.1
So, the days of manually researching and setting hotel rate caps are over. Check out the video below to learn more about this feature.
3. To help you save on hotel rates—even after you’ve booked
Problem: Your travel budget has been cut and you need to save money on business travel. Air and hotel bookings are the biggest expenses when it comes to business travel and current prices are very expensive. A lot of companies are also experiencing constraints in their budget, so need to save money with their business travel.
Solution: Egencia Savings Finder for Hotel automatically looks for savings after booking a hotel to see if the price has dropped. Customers are then able to secure the best value rates on hotels.
It also unlocks more value for corporate travel programmes by applying ML to automatically track price variations and rebook rooms without any action on the part of the business traveller or arranger. When Egencia Savings Finder identifies a lower rate within an average of the first seven days of booking, it automatically rebooks the reservation with the same amenities. And even better—because we’re constantly evolving the ML model based on our data, we understand the behaviour of thousands of companies and aren’t limited to a third party.
4. To get you the help you need – fast
Problem: Whether you’re a travel manager or traveller, you’ve probably got a tight schedule with lots on your to-do list. The last thing you want to do is spend your precious time calling up and asking for help.
Solution: Egencia Chat is AI-powered customer service with a human touch. The virtual travel agent is programmed to give a business traveller personalised answers right away. It’s also a 24/7/365 self-service connection to current, past, and cancelled bookings, empowering travellers to make changes in seconds—no phone call required. And that’s not all, we made it even easier with a Slack integration in 2022.
We’re proud of these capabilities, but don’t just take it from us, users awarded us a solid +40 net promoter score (NPS) Chat score in several major languages including French and German.1
5. To sift through overwhelming travel options
Problem: You need to book your flights and choose a hotel, but there are so many options—almost too many!
Booking flights and your ideal hotel shouldn’t be stressful. But let’s face it, it is. After scrolling page after page, photo after photo, rating after rating—it can become overwhelming.
Solution: Egencia’s Smart Mix. To build the Smart Mix for Hotel ML model, our data science team analysed two years of data, nine million bookings and over 170 factors that make up a hotel booking in order to build and reduce scrolling. And by analysing traveller behaviour like booking history, travel patterns and loyalty programme activity, we can provide business travellers with personalised recommendations tailored to their own preferences.
This technology prioritises search results based on intelligent weighting of variables such as layover time and baggage costs. It also uses ML based on a traveller’s previous selections—and those of their colleagues—to continuously enhance performance. This means you’re more likely to find your ideal flight or hotel on page one rather than page 18, saving both time and hassle.
This has resulted in:1
- 90% of flights selected from the top 10 search results
- 60 bookings from hotels were displayed as the number one option
- Over 70 of bookings were from hotels displayed in the top three positions
- 85% of bookings from hotels were displayed in the top five positions
These are just some of the big ways we use data to enhance our customer’s business travel. But that’s just the beginning.
Natasha Samuel has over 10 years of experience in Product Marketing. She has expertise in managing teams, processes, and organisational and product change for companies of all sizes—from start-ups to several billion-dollar global businesses.
1 Egencia internal research, 2023