Corporate travel worldwide continues to see a steady resurgence, with annual growth rates approaching 4%, according to Phocuswright.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Rodolfo Silva, VP, global corporate sales and account management for Sabre.
In response, online bookings also continue to grow. In fact, the GBTA’s BTI Outlook estimates that in 2017 US business travel spend will reach $304.9 billion advancing 4.2 percent.
The number is even greater when you include Europe, Asia and additional parts of the world.
Reducing travel costs has forever been a top strategic objective for corporations, and a quick way to reduce travel costs is to maximize online adoption rates.
Today’s corporate booking landscape is highly competitive with a multitude of online travel agencies, booking sites, and supplier websites such as airlines, hotels and rental cars all vying for the traveler’s attention. This choice often leads to out-of-policy bookings.
In addition, 78% of US business travelers prefer to manage their trip themselves through self-service technology, according to the GBTA. This has caused corporations to continuously reevaluate their travel programs to improve and better enforce compliance and control costs. The demand for traveler empowerment by self-service is only gaining in momentum.
Online adoption also translates into improved duty of care obligations, stronger negotiating power, plus improved traveler efficiency and satisfaction. With an industry online adoption rate average of only 58%, there is obviously room for improvement as travel managers look to deliver greater corporate travel savings.
Which leads to the question: How do you increase online booking tool adoption?
Let’s review the top four ways to maximize savings by maximizing booking tool adoption.
Corporate travelers are highly mobile, your booking tool should be too
Smartphones and fast internet access have transformed nearly all facets of life, but business travel has seen some of the most dramatic changes. Today’s smartphones and apps can translate words if traveling to a foreign country for business, locate you anywhere in the world, map your way through unfamiliar, overcrowded airports. They can act as your boarding pass, hail a ride or cab, make dinner reservations and even help you book a last-minute hotel room.
In other words, they have become an indispensable business tool and therefore have increased expectations.
Stay ahead of the curve by offering a modern mobile booking solution with rich content that makes corporate travel a convenient and seamless experience. Empowering your travelers to make smarter travel decisions begins with your providing them a mobile and convenient way to participate in your program, wherever they may be.
A seamless consumer-grade experience is key to driving online booking tool adoption
Travelers want an easy to use booking tool,with consumer-grade functionality and booking choices which can help them before and during a trip.
If a tool is difficult to use, adoption rates are lower and cost savings are not realized.
Travelers expect their corporate booking tool to seamlessly incorporate policies and provide the ability to book, cancel or change reservations mid-trip via their mobile device.
Its modern interface, fast response times, rich content and innovative features should all work seamlessly on desktops, tablets and smartphones.
For travel managers, the tool should provide vast content options including branded fares and give employees access to the information they need whenever and wherever they need it. The net result will be increases adoption.
Establish a winning game plan with an experienced partner
Implementation is rarely easy, even when a thorough study of the options has been conducted, and all stakeholders’ views have been taken into account. That’s why it’s critical to have an experienced partner to help you navigate all the complexities and minimize any unforeseen turbulence.
Find a partner with a consultative approach that anticipates needs and delivers solutions for you, your travelers, and your bottom line and which has worked directly with airlines, hotels and other suppliers.
Your partner should provide the infrastructure and expertise across all regions to deliver a globally consistent, yet localized experience.
A solid standardized communication platform is is essential for the delivery of a high-quality travel solution. Not having one in place often leads to much lower adoption rates.
You also want a team that has the expertise to build and maintain policies specifically tailored around the way your company does business and that can deliver custom features such as pre-trip approval and dynamic messaging. An experienced team will implement a program that drives adoption and lowers costs.
System stability is vital
Simply put, if the system isn’t accessible, how can you expect your travelers to use it? Nothing can negatively impact adoption as quickly as an unreliable network.
Operating in a world when one-half sleeps and the other half is awake demands reliability. Better uptime and better customer experiences go hand in hand.
As a result, you need an online booking tool that works in real-time and is backed with the ability to respond to any issues immediately, minimizing the impact on you and your travelers.
To minimize the risk of downtime, select a solution that has the experience of handling millions of transactions and active users. Your business travelers will thank you with higher adoption rates, rewarding your company with greater travel savings through in-policy bookings.
Flawless implementation, an experienced partner that offers great customer support and a mobile solution are all key components to driving a successful global travel program with high online adoption. These elements will ensure you have a program travelers actually want to use.
NB: This is a viewpoint by Rodolfo Silva, VP, global corporate sales and account management for Sabre. It appears here as part of Tnooz’s sponsored content initiative.
NB2: Image by Lukas Kurka/BigStock