Travel agency uses AI to make life easier for advisors: Travel Weekly
A Travel Leaders franchise in Highland Park, Illinois is using artificial intelligence (AI) to provide its advisors with a feature that one executive says is straight out of “my wildest dream.”
Travel Leaders 365 (TL365), a host agency and TMC owned by the Cambata family, has integrated AI into its proprietary trip planning platform, Atlas.
In development since 2016, the platform offers a full-service booking tool, reporting, billing, customer relationship management capabilities, itinerary management and more.
Lindsay Taylor-Lauer, director of business development at TL365, called it a one-stop shop for advisors who would otherwise have to connect to multiple platforms to do their job and said it could save time.
“It’s all in the Atlas,” she said. “I call that my wildest dream when I was a councilor because you log in once and that’s the beauty of it.”
TL365 has 70 independent contractors and 120 employees in total. In addition to its accommodation and TMC services, it operates Greaves Travel, a TMC in Canada; Greaves Tours, a destination management company for India; travel technology company Web-Fares; and TL24, a 24/7 air service for Travel Leaders member agencies.
Taylor-Lauer joined the company a few months ago to focus its lodging program on high-end leisure travel. She’s a former IC herself, but after a career that included taking on celebrity clients, she sold her business book. She then joined Coastline Travel Advisors in Garden Grove, CA and helped grow the agency’s lodging program before moving to TL365.
Lindsay Taylor Lauer
Currently, the AI used by the Atlas is primarily used for billing and route generation. In technical terms, Taylor-Lauer said, it’s an in-house developed engine “based on cognitive reasoning and analysis, with a recognition and identification component.” Simply put, it basically analyzes and captures data.
AI also helps eliminate human error, as much of it is entered automatically.
“Let’s simplify what we can,” Taylor-Lauer said. “Let’s dedicate people to what we need, but use technology. AI is huge. Our development team has learned to harness it so effectively, it’s amazing.”
Going forward, TL365 intends to expand its AI engine to include decision-making capabilities and more.
But for now, technology’s ability to typically save around 40% of advisors’ time is more valuable than ever, as the job of a travel advisor has never been more complex, thanks to restrictions and requirements related to the pandemic, Taylor-Lauer said.
“It’s time right now to really reconsider everything we do in our industry and why we do it,” she said. “What I’ve done a lot is ask the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.”
Norm Rose, senior technology and business market analyst at Phocuswright and president of Travel Tech Consulting, has focused for years on emerging technologies and their impact on travel. He applauded TL365’s use of AI in its agent-facing platform and said it hits the sweet spot of AI use cases.
“If at the end of the day whatever tool they build makes a human being smarter, that’s exactly where I think AI should be placed,” Rose said.
“I commend them for seeing AI not as a standalone solution that works on its own, but as a tool to aid human thought and human activity, to augment that.”