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 across the land with new forms of communication, and 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. So, whilst people these days move roles more often in search of that dream job, and smoking in the office is a definite no-no, so too do they want more from their business travel.
Shifting 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) and 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, fully transparent and accessible by whomever needs to see it. And they want TMCs to keep up.
In an industry that hasn’t always been the quickest to adapt to a shifting tech landscape, changing procurement, booker and traveller demands have forced corporate travel management providers to up their games and have driven some excellent tech 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 used to the world of consumer comparison and booking sites aren’t content to have to ring or email a business travel consultant for a simple journey, list out their departure dates, places and times or their hotel requirements, then sit and wait 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 do it themselves and they want a platform that provides the kind of choice they’re used to from consumer sites. It’s no good having a few hotel chains or some airlines’ options – they 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 into the future. This set of guidelines is designed to address the industry’s distribution limitations and provide access to rich and full air content with 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, and experienced reservations staff 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 it 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 tomorrow’s 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.