by Michael J. Shapiro | September 19, 2017
U.S. business travelers both embrace and fear emerging technology, according to results of the fourth edition of the Egencia Business Travel and Technology Survey, more details from which were released today by Egencia. While slightly more than half of U.S. respondents (55 percent) said they believe advancements in artificial intelligence can improve their travel experiences, nearly 38 percent did not disagree with the notion that AI and virtual reality could end humankind as we know it today.
Representatives from Egencia, the business-travel arm of Expedia, said fear doesn't indicate that emerging technologies should be avoided; rather, it underscores the need to maintain a balance between automation and human interaction. "There is a fundamental shift already happening in the traveler mindset that companies need to anticipate travelers' needs and simplify all aspects of business travel," noted Michael Gulmann, Egencia's chief product officer. "As such, there is a balancing act for travel companies to ensure they offer the latest technology, alongside the ability for travelers to connect with a live person anytime, anywhere."
While Egencia did not draw any deeper conclusions about the American psyche, the company did point out that business travelers in other parts of the world generally were neither as optimistic nor as fearful as their U.S. counterparts. In fact, fewer than half of business travelers in other regions said they thought AI would improve their travel experiences. Those in Sweden and Norway were the least optimistic, where only 37 percent of respondents said they thought AI would make things better for travel, followed by 41 percent in the U.K. and Germany, 42 percent in Australia, 44 percent in Canada and France, and 47 percent in Singapore.
Business travelers in Australia, Singapore and France were slightly more fearful then those in the U.S. about what AI and VR might bring about: Forty percent of Australian and Singaporean respondents did not dismiss the idea that AI and VR could end humankind, nor did 39 percent in France. That number fell to 36 perecent in Canada and Germany, 33 percent in the U.K., 30 percent in Sweden and 28 percent in Norway.
Egencia's survey was conducted in April and May of this year, among 4,521 business travelers age 18 and older.