A trio of corporate travel companies have released chatbots of late.
Deem and travel management company Casto aim to aid the traveler
experience, while Bizly wants to make sourcing small meetings easier.
A new Deem chatbot will connect travelers to Deem’s Work Fource
platform within the Facebook Messenger app. Company and policy
information, as well as user-specific information like preferred suppliers, negotiated rates, payment types and loyalty programs will be
connected to Messenger.
The chatbot will enable not only booking via Messenger but also
during-trip assistance in Messenger. “It’s a surface that Deem Work
Fource expresses itself on through Facebook Messenger,” Deem
president and CEO John Rizzo told BTN. “All of the power of the
Work Fource sits behind it, yet it delivers data in response to your
spoken commands or typed commands. And because it has access
to all your records in Work Fource, it has the context and therefore
can respond intelligently to what you need.” Over time, the chatbot
will improve, Rizzo said, enhancing services and enabling travelers
to submit queries about things like weather and local restaurants.
Travel management companies Cain Travel and Campbell Travel are
piloting the chatbot and expect to roll it out in the coming months.
Rizzo expects to make Work Fource available on a number of messaging apps but started with Facebook because it has the largest user
base—one billion monthly users globally—and because its application programming interfaces are extensive, allowing Deem speed
and efficiency. Additionally, the technologies that already are present
in Facebook, such as speech recognition and geolocation, are a natural fit for the travel industry. “If you landed in a place where there’s
just been a terrorist incident and your company wants to know if
you’re OK, the geolocation services Facebook has allow us to …
automatically let everybody know that you’re in a different area, for
example,” Rizzo said.
Casto Travel is testing a native app, Marco by Casto Travel, that is
powered by Mezi. The app includes travel shopping, some booking capabilities, itinerary management and natural language, chat-based interaction. It will be more broadly available to customers
Not only does Casto see message-based interactions as something
travelers increasingly prefer, it also is potentially less costly for a
TMC to service over time. Casto CEO Marc Casto said that agents
will get involved when the chatbots are not able to address requests.
If the traveler wants to know flight status, a bot can field that. If
travelers want to book complex, multi-leg itineraries, it’s best left to
an agent, for now. “When it doesn’t recognize what the conversation
is, then the agent can step in,” said Casto. “Additionally, it does have
machine-learning built into it,” so the automation should improve
through recognizing how agents field requests the technology can’t
“The first iteration will be policy light,” he said. “Complex travel
policies and complex travel management is not something that’s
built into the first generation of this.”
Casto will deploy a dedicated team of agents to work the TMC side
of the chat platform. “Inevitably, it will be the platform of choice
for our management of all communication with clients,” including
email, chat, text and phone support, Casto said.
While Mezi is the primary developer of Casto’s bot technology,
Sabre VP of emerging products
and technologies Mark McSpad-
den said Casto, along with Dallas-
based TSI, also is piloting Sabre’s
own white-label chatbot that helps
travel agencies engage travelers.
Casto noted the Sabre bot applies
only to a “very specific area of ser-
vice” for the TMC.
Small meetings tech firm Bizly has
introduced an artificial intelligence-powered chat function within its
meetings contracting and booking
app. The feature is an addition to
the venue direct messaging function introduced in April as part of
Bizly’s pivot to an enterprise-focused
meetings app. The beauty of the first
iteration of the messaging center is
that it tracks the negotiation thread,
thereby creating a kind of “live” RFP
and contract record, rather than
using onerous documentation for
simple group bookings. The artificial
intelligence feature, Bizly CEO Ron
Shah told BTN, then better supports
compliance and relevance for the
user, and ultimately efficiency.
“We found bottlenecks in the tra-
ditional process that were cropping
up in our tool, as well,” he said.
“For example, legal addendums still
had to be reviewed at the end of the
process even for small meetings.
Bringing in the lawyers and redlin-
ing at that point is not efficient. So
we’ve brought AI in to help auto-
mate that: to recognize at what
point during the chat conversation
these parameters need to be pre-
sented and to prompt suppliers to
agree to requirements like nondis-
closures or insurance limits as part
of the workflow.”
Natural language processing will
recognize chat patterns and trigger
other compliance reminders like
room rate limits or meal cost limits
to keep meeting organizers on the
right path. The system also will pull
on the user’s past bookings and spe-
cial requests to suggest things like
extra water pitchers or other known
preferences. Using venue stats and
other metadata stored in the technol-
ogy, Bizly AI also can display instant-
book venues that meet user needs
even as they are chatting through
requirements with other suppliers.
“Our goal is to limit the time it
takes to book a meeting,” said Shah,
adding that the AI will get smarter
with usage. “It really needs to be
easy for anyone within a company to
book meetings and stay compliant.”
up in our tool, as
well ... so we’ve
brought AI in to
—BIZLY’S RON SHAH
Deem enables booking
& on-trip assistance in
company Casto is testing
a Mezi-based app.
Bizly uses artificial
intelligence to make
small meetings sourcing
3 New Chatbots for Corporate
Travel & Meetings