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Technological advancements give power back to travellers

Younger C-suites and technological advances have put the power of booking in the hands of the traveller

Improvements in booking systems have led many organisations to rethink how their corporate travel services are delivered
Improvements in booking systems have led many organisations to rethink how their corporate travel services are delivered 

Organisations are rethinking how corporate travel services are delivered. Many are improving their programme efficiency through more effective booking systems, integration of global booking content, and the implementation of strict travel policies. This change is driven by the growing amount of corporate travel, and Generation-Y executives keen on controlling their own schedules.

Travellers expect more information about trips, and many are planning their own. Travel managers must introduce content filters and corporate collaboration technologies that offer relevant, accessible information. Travel bookers need maps of destination details and key locations for each employee. For travel technology firms, this means creating booking programmes with collaborative maps, allowing travellers to input relevant content. New technology may also add itineraries and appointment emails to the traveller’s calendar.

The surge in self-booking could heighten efficiency and reduce expenses induced by cancellations

Advanced booking systems
“Whether they use CBTs, online travel agencies or TMCs to make bookings, 92 percent of travel bookers are dependent on global travel systems to make their bookings,” said corporate travel solutions provider Travelport in a recent report. “That means the onus is on system suppliers to bring together the full range of booking content needed to find the best travel and accommodation deals, and deliver faster, more appropriate travel services to corporate travellers. Minimising the headache of choice experienced by travellers and travel executives is instrumental in the success of any travel technology provider.”

Some firms centralise their needs via an internal travel manager, who typically relies on a corporate booking system such as AmEx. Others have trips booked by an external firm or by employees individually. Companies with centralised booking typically rely on travel arrangers to organise flights, hotels, cars and trains for over 60 percent of their travellers’ reservations. In Europe, where the centralised model is more prevalent than in North America, travel arrangers make seven times more bookings than self-bookers.

Varying travel needs
Travel arrangers have a mission to secure satisfaction and seek the best value within the limits of a company’s travel policy. Older generations of executives tend to have specific preferences, such as time of day, seat placement, and layover location, and prefer business class flights. Younger C-suites are more concerned with saving time and money, and opt for overnight flights and economy seats. Travel arrangers must accommodate these varying needs.

“They make more advanced reservations, but cancel bookings twice as often as self-bookers,” says a recent Egenecia study. “This could be to make up for a lack of visibility on travellers’ schedules and trip imperatives. Travel arrangers have adopted online booking at a rate upwards of 80 percent and the more they book, the more they adopt online booking over traditional offline methods.”

“Many of our customers use some combination of the two models: more assistance for complex or VIP travel, and more independence for road warriors,” adds Graham Kingsmill, Managing Director of Egencia UK.

Because business travellers, particularly younger ones, are becoming pickier, more firms are allowing employees to book themselves. According to the Egencia study, 100 percent of polled North American multinationals are decentralised, and multinationals in Europe have a self-booking rate of 50 percent. Unsurprisingly, self-bookers favour online over telephone or face-to-face services. Travel bookers typically guard against changing plans by making several bookings at once. The surge in self-booking could heighten efficiency and reduce expenses induced by cancellations.

Considering multinationals are giving travellers more autonomy than local firms are, this self-booking model is likely to gain traction as an increasing number of European companies expand globally. The new, digital generation of business travellers will also affect this trend as they come to expect the same level of usability, choice and transparency in corporate bookings as in the leisure market. Companies should be ready with solutions to accommodate this revolutionary move.

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