< PrevNext > Case Study Mobile Travel Assistant Improves Deaf Employee Traveler Experience By Dawit Habtemariam / 30 April 2018 / Contact Reporter Share ZVRS makes video technology for deaf and hard-of-hearing people, and the company employs a number of deaf and hard-of-hearing people, as well. It’s a growing business that acquired Purple Communications in December. With that acquisition, ZVRS decided it was time to explore a new TMC. The company had struggled with a lack of email support; its former agency accepted only phone calls after formal business hours. This was not a good option for deaf travelers. “We got many complaints,” said ZVRS business manager Dawnmarie Caggiano, who also runs the company’s travel program.ZVRS looked at both incumbent agencies. Purple Communications had been with Flight Centre’s Corporate Traveler brand, which specializes in small and midmarket clients and had rolled out Flight Centre Travel Group’s Smart Assistant for Mobile about six months earlier. Corporate Traveler’s 24/7 e-mail support combined with Sam’s mobile services were game changers for hearing-impaired employees.The app enables travelers to book or reschedule trips via SMS text with travel agents. “That has been a huge benefit,” said Caggiano. “It’s user friendly and deaf friendly.” The app also tells travelers where to claim their bags, notifies them about flight changes, informs them about travel time to the airport and helps them book ground transportation if the system sees that they haven’t rented a car in the arrival destination.“When our deaf employees face issues like a flight delay or cancellation, they don’t necessarily have the advantage of picking up the phone to call the travel agency,” she said, but it’s not just about travel disruptions. It’s also about efficiencies. “When the plane lands, the airlines make announcements about baggage claim No. whatever, etc. Deaf employees have to wait for the screens to show them where the baggage will be. Sam shows you that information so none of ZVRS’s employees have to wait.”Plus, Caggiano said, it’s about convenience. “There’s a lot of hustle and bustle in the airport so that even hearing employees may prefer the chat-with-an-agent option through Sam. And it’s also more private.” Employees are able to communicate discreetly with an agent during meetings without having to step out for a call. “This keeps them on top of their travel without missing a beat in the workday.”ZVRS trained travelers on using the Sam app as part of the orientation to the company’s new travel program and agency. About a quarter of ZVRS’s travelers use the app actively and more have logged on at least once, according to Flight Centre Travel Group.AI’s RoleConsidering booking on Sam happens through chat and that Sam has programmatic settings behind ground transportation, the AI at work within Sam isn’t obvious. But it’s there, said Flight Centre Travel Group chief strategy officer of the Americas John Morhous, and it is getting more advanced. There's a lot of hustle and bustle in the airport so that even hearing employees may prefer the chat-with-an-agent option through Sam."ZVRS's Dawnmarie Caggiano “The AI is watching the user’s interaction flow with the solution. It’s watching what messages they look at, it’s watching how it’s delivering messages to users, and it’s constantly adapting and tweaking the information delivery based on individual needs and preferences,” he said. If the app sends driving directions and the user doesn’t look at it a certain number of times, it will stop sending them, for example. This assures that the app remains helpful rather than becoming annoying, and half of ZVRS users rate the app’s performance as at least an 8, on a scale of one to 10. “We are looking to use the app to simplify the interaction flow so the [agent] can spend time servicing the traveler,” said Morhous. That will soon include AI-enhanced self booking through the app, with options based on user behavior and company policy, and that will allow the traveler to book on the spot without agent involvement.