What’s your problem?
No, really. When it comes to travel management, what are your problems?
You see, we want to talk about solutions, but the idea of a solution inherently suggests a problem. There’s no need for a solution if there’s no problem, right?
Really, what makes a top corporate travel management solution depends on what obstacles you as an organisation are trying to overcome. For example, a small business with two travellers looking for a quick and easy way to book the train to London would have a pretty different set of expectations to a multinational corporate keen to cut global costs whilst providing dedicated duty of care from Detroit to Dublin.
Thankfully, there are a few things to look out for that are universally positive points, whatever your particular travel programme and requirements.
Cutting edge travel tech
Like a 24-hour photography studio, travel tech is developing all the time.
Modern travel platforms are able to offer everything from online booking to live management information and dynamic travel policy controls. But for such useful platforms to be created and improved, there needs to be a profound understanding by the developers of both customer expectations and the changing landscape of travel management.
Ideally you would want to work with a corporate travel management supplier that develops its own platform, using its own in-house software development team, which benefits from the hands on experience of client-facing account management and reservations teams.
The best way to get a feel for a travel platform is to use it and compare it to alternatives. If the provider doesn’t want to play ball with a transparent demo – stay away.
“If travel platforms are so great, why do I need anything else in my corporate travel solution?”
The answer is that travel is not just about data and software; it’s about people, their requirements, their understanding and their experience.
While tech booking tools can collate data, analysing booking information is more of an art than a science; it requires real people who can combine experience, knowledge and data together to deliver real travel savings.
For example, you have a new travel policy and you want to roll it out to your staff. You’ve got a bang up to date travel platform, just stick your new rules in there, make them mandatory and you’re all set, right?
In reality, you will probably end up with numerous emails and phone calls from infuriated colleagues demanding to know why booker X can no longer book in hotel Y and ask why traveller A can’t get a train ticket home at B o’clock.
Major decision-making and implementation on travel management requires greater thought and understanding, which is where a genuinely knowledgeable team of travel experts are worth their weight in gold and provide the yin to technology’s yang in the ideal corporate travel management solution.
So, if you’re a more complex organisation, make sure to look out for a solution provider with proven success in delivering the human side of travel management.
Transparency & trustworthiness
Sounds simple: find a platform and organisation you trust. But it’s rarely that easy; most corporate travel management providers will promise you everything under the sun – but, unfortunately, the reality is often somewhat different.
You’re probably thinking, “That’s great, so how do I find out if a corporate travel solution provider is trustworthy then?” Well, there are a few things you can do to get a real feel for the platform and solution you’re considering.
- Speak to the solution provider
Get in touch and arrange a chat. It’s one of the best ways to get a feel for the provider. What can they tell you about themselves and their platform? Are they open and honest in their responses or just saying yes to every single thing you ask about? Sometimes, your most instinctive reaction is the right one.
- Use the platform
Have a go! Sign up for a demo or ask for a login and have a play. Seem intuitive? Easy to use? Clear and concise? Breadth of capabilities? You’ll get a good idea from using the tool. And if they’re not keen to let you crack on, be very wary – ask why they’re so reticent.
- Speak to their customers
Get in touch with their clients and have a chat with them. What are their honest views of the level of customer service, the quality of the platform and the value of the fares? If you can’t get in touch directly, ask the provider or check out any case studies.
- Consult Independent Reviews (e.g. Trust Pilot)
See what other people are saying about the platform or solution. Try anonymous review sites, where you know you’re hearing genuine opinions, untainted by overzealous solution providers.
- Consult Independent Awards (e.g. Buying Business Travel Awards)
Equally, scope out how your potential corporate travel management provider gets on in their third party industry awards. Again, this is being judged by impartial experts, so should provide a pretty reliable indication as to their qualities.
Finding the right solution isn’t always as easy as it should be, but, (hopefully!) this run down of what makes a top corporate travel management solution and how to find it should give you a handy starting point.