Sceptical that technology will define the future of corporate travel?
Imagine a typical office 50 years ago.
The incessant click-clack of typewriters, stale smoke hanging in the air, hand-written memos, paper address books stuffed with contacts’ landline numbers.
It seems a world away from the offices of today, which are increasingly open, tech-orientated and paper free.
So what’s changed?
Well a couple of things spring to mind. Firstly, technology. Software and hardware has grown exponentially more powerful over the decades, providing offices with new forms of communication. This is as true in the corporate travel world as elsewhere.
Secondly, expectations. People’s requirements have progressed, in terms of what they want out of their career, their workplace and their travel. People these days move roles more often in search of that dream job and they want more from their business travel.
Shifting corporate travel demands
With the never-ceasing march of technology comes a parallel change in the demands of users. No longer are organisations happy to outsource all travel booking and analysis to travel management companies (TMCs). End users don’t want to wait for offline teams to do the searching and booking for them. They want to be able to search travel options from hundreds of thousands of suppliers and make their own booking at the click of a button. They want access to their management information data in real time, transparent and accessible to whomever needs to see it. And they want TMCs to keep up.
This industry that hasn’t always been the quickest to adapt to a shifting tech landscape. But changing procurement, booker and traveller demands have forced corporate travel management providers to up their game and drive innovation.
A place for everything and everything in its place
Online booking platforms have, in recent years, developed from rudimentary booking-only tools, to multi-faceted platforms allowing organisations and individuals to view real-time management information, incorporate policy restrictions and expenses and access more and more travel options from multiple suppliers across the globe.
Bookers are now used to the world of consumer comparison and booking sites. They aren’t content to have to ring or email a business travel consultant for a simple journey. Listing their departure dates, places and times or their hotel requirements, sitting and waiting for a few options to select from, before sending back a confirmation and then getting the… yada, yada, yada. You get the idea – tedious, isn’t it? And for most bookings, it really isn’t necessary.
They want the power to book travel themselves and they want a platform that provides the consumer choice they’re used to. It’s no good having a few hotel chains or some airlines’ options – end users want everything in one place.
And the increasing uptake of the airline body IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) will make having a cutting edge travel tech platform even more crucial going forward. This set of guidelines is designed to address the industry’s distribution limitations. It also provides a transparent shopping experience, as it allows airlines to sell their fares directly to consumers.
Of course, there will always be a place for expert account management to help organisations interpret their travel trends. Experienced reservations staff will still need to advise on complex routes and suppliers. But organisation and traveller demand is only going one way, and that’s towards a tech-driven future. So, how should you prepare? Well, there are a few things you can do.
- Review your current arrangements – you could be missing out right now! Benchmark your travel services against the market to find out if you’re missing out through old fashioned or limited tech capability.
- Speak to your staff. Find out what expectations your travellers and bookers have – you might be surprised at the need for the convenience that tech developments bring.
- Do your homework on your TMC. Ideally, you’ll want to work with a tech-savvy, forward-thinking travel management company that can demonstrate it is at the frontline of travel tech development.
- Familiarise yourself with the latest industry developments. If NDC, direct connect, travel platform, and blockchain mean nothing to you, then get to grips with travel management industry jargon. It’ll give you a head start in making sure you’re getting a future-proofed corporate travel management solution, not a clunky old dinosaur!
Once you’ve done all of the above, you should be in a better position to handle corporate travel innovations. The new wave of travel technology aiming to make your organisation’s travel smoother and simpler.
Maybe it’s time for your organisation to get on board with a cutting-edge business travel platform?
To find out more about Click Travel’s award-winning platform, click here.