ATG Will Use IBM’s Watson to Improve Booking ExperienceBIG Data

Travel management company ATG is leveraging the natural language processing, information retrieval, automated reasoning and machine learning capabilities of IBM’s Watson Assistant to deliver booking recommendations, based on the traveler’s past bookings, via chatbot and voice command. “I’ve always found online booking to be tedious,” said ATG CEO Tammy Krings, “and it’s based on 25-year-old technology and hasn’t really changed or kept pace with how people use technology today.”

ATG will roll out a new smartphone all that enables voice bookings. If a booker runs into an issue during the voice-enabled booking, he or she can ask to be directed to a live person. Certain indicators also will trigger the system to ask the booker if he or she would like to speak to an agent. Booking capability for more common languages like English, Chinese and Spanish will be available by mid-2020, followed by others.

By the end of 2020, Watson-powered booking recommendations will go live on the voice bookings and on ATG’s chatbot. The chatbot lives on an ATG dashboard available on each client’s intranet and via a secure website. The traveler will type or speak the date and destination for an upcoming trip and receive a tailored list of flight, hotel, rail, ground transportation and/or car rental booking options. Watson will deduce the traveler’s preferences—for air, examples are preferred service class, seat type and time of day—from the traveler’s past bookings. If the city is a new destination for the traveler, the system will base recommendations on the traveler’s other trips and on colleagues’ trips to that city, Krings said. “We realized we have so much data and we know so much about travelers’ behavior, so it’s all about using that data in a way that provides a better experience for our travelers,” noted Krings.

ATG’s dashboard allows access to access third-party online booking tools, including SAP Concur and Amadeus Cytric, but the new offerings will not integrate with those tools. Instead, ATG will enable bookings via “a combination of inventory management and distribution tools,” including the global distribution system said Krings.

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