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Business Travel Technology – Cryptocurrency, Chatbots, and Apps, Oh My!

We’re living during a time when technological innovation is easing practically every area of our lives. You can pre-order your Starbucks latte before even leaving the house. You can buy and ship groceries to your house, just by talking to your smart home device.  And it’s easy to see how business travel is being simplified too. Ride sharing apps are now acceptable forms of transportation for most businesses. Checking in to flights has never been easier. And managing expenses is a breeze. Even with these changes that seem so simple now, it’s eye-opening to think of what is likely on the horizon of business travel technology.

I recently attended a presentation by Johnny Thorsen from Mezi, an artificial intelligence-powered tech startup. As the Vice President of Travel Strategy & Partnerships, his perspective on the future of the business travel industry was surprising, exciting, and even a little mind-boggling.

Innovative travel apps currently available to business travelers

Many wonderful advancements are currently on the scene and in action for business travelers.  

  • Dufl– This luggage delivery app has been around for a few years now. This service provides busy travelers with a solution for luggage and clothing. Acting like a virtual closet that cleans, stores, and sends your garments to the traveler when they need it. Easily have the luggage sent to your hotel, and ship it back to Dufl when you leave. 
  • Seateroo– This app allows passengers to sell premium airline seats to another passenger once boarding has completed. Anyone looking to make a little extra cash can post their seat of the app for a desired price and see if anyone is willing to switch spots. 
  • Roomer– A solution for hotel guests who wish to cancel non-refundable hotel reservations. This app allows users to sell their reservation, rather than eat the cost of the room. Others looking for a room could use Roomer to find a good deal at typically discounted prices on hotel bookings.  
  • Turo– A peer to peer car sharing app and website which allows people to rent out their personal vehicle to others needing a car for a day or even weeks at a time. 

 

Innovative business travel technology on the rise:

I was surprised to find that many ideas that seem so futuristic are much closer to reality. Some, are even in action now without most of us realizing it.

  • Chatbots for travel- If you’ve used a chat feature on a website, you’ve likely communicated with a chatbot at some point. This artificial intelligence technology is a computer program that conducts messaging and conversation like a real human. Often an experienced agent stands by to intervene when the chatbot can no longer answer the questions. It is actually currently available, with about 60% automation. Chatbots and their capabilities are expected to increase and be used more seamlessly in the future.
  • Cryptocurrency will become more prominent- Without getting in too deep into defining cryptocurrencies and blockchain, this is a digital currency that is growing in popularity and acceptance. So much so that it is currently being used for business transactions in 29 countries. It is not controlled by banks, making transactions instant, with the flexibility to be used for public or private matters.
  • Smart Contract could replace hotel RFPs- Using the same block chain technology used in cryptocurrency, hotels may be able to benefit from its advanced security features. The idea is simple, Smart Contracts take out the middleman, the GDS, and replace it with transactions using cryptocurrency.  Implications could be interesting for Group, Meeting and Event contracts, as well as annual business travel contracts.
  • Self- driving cars- aside from changing traditional car rental, self- driving cars can potentially take the place of small meeting rooms. Why travel to one location, when you can meet, communicate and negotiate while already on the way to your errand? It could also serve as a more convenient mode of transportation for regional travel. It could be possible to travel by self-driving car, work and sleep in-route,  and wake up in your destination city. The need for a short flight and overnight in a hotel may be unnecessary.
  • TSA screening – TSA will change and become more profile-based; making the presence of the TSA screening that we know today almost invisible. Signs of this are already here, like advanced technology being tested in TSA Pre-Check lines in select airports. 

Only time will tell if these advancements will come to fruition. We will be watching the horizon closely for new and innovative ways business travel technology is evolving. Check back on our blog for industry updates or to learn how our preparatory technology, AirPortal, is advancing business travel management.

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Business Travel Travel Industry Travel Technology

DUFL Packs and Ships Your Suitcase

Dufl is a new travel app designed to assist business travelersMany business travelers feel that the worst part of traveling is having to pack and unpack a suitcase, plus the time required for the task.

Serial entrepreneur, Bill Rinehart, has found a solution to this annoyance: DUFL. DUFL is right up there with Uber and Airbnb as a travel game changer. The idea came after Rinehart finished a roundtrip from Phoenix to London, arriving home on Friday, only to start traveling again on Sunday. The time involved in laundering and preparing to travel again can be depressing. It takes away from valuable family time and enjoying one’s personal life. Here’s how DUFL works:

  • Download the DUFL app and create a new user account. DUFL will then send you a large suitcase.
  • Pack your DUFL suitcase to the brim with whatever you need for future business trips.
  • Mail the suitcase to DUFL’s storage facility via FedEx, DUFL’s partner. Upon receipt, DUFL will inventory and photograph inventory, photograph, clean and store your clothes so that they are ready for your next trip. All items will be uploaded to your account for your reference the next time you travel.
  • Request which clothes you’d like to take from your DUFL virtual closet, through the app, then enter your destination and arrival date. Items are expertly folded and your DUFL suitcase is guaranteed to be waiting for you in whatever city and hotel where you are staying.
  • Return the suitcase once your trip is over via FedEx. Return forms are included with your items and the suitcase is transported back to their facility where clothes are washed or dry cleaned and stored for your next trip!

If only this existed a few years back when I was traveling every other week! The service costs $9.95 per month to maintain your DUFL closet, and $99 for a standard trip, which covers three-day shipping to and from your destination. It also includes cleaning and repacking. DUFL was voted Best Travel App for 2015 by USA Today.  To learn more, visit USA Today and Forbes. You can also check out DUFL’s FAQs at DUFL.com.