The modern business traveler survives in an era of accessible, cost-effective and powerful technology that emphasises on customisation,multi-channel hyper-connectivity and personalisation. They are engaged with personal social channels and work platforms simultaneously. Travel suppliers and retailers have started investing heavily in giving travelers what they want, when they want and where they want. All of which leads to a comfortable, enjoyable and productive travel experience.
Corporate travel programs are the foundation of managed travel. However, there are challenges in travel managers adapting their programs to accommodate the digital adoption among modern travelers. There is a gap between practice and policy when it comes to digital services and corporate travel. Though modern travelers are digitally evolving, corporates are not open to updating their travel programs to narrow down the disparity as they are not fully aware of the benefits of going digital to their procurement.
This white paper would cover:
- Digital activation in corporate travel
- Travel value chain- digital mapping
- Business travelers and digital activation
- Impact of digital activation on modern travelers
- Digital adoption by travel suppliers
- Benefits of digital technologies in travel procurement
Digital activation in corporate travel
The travel industry is at the forefront of digital disruption, changing the way people travel. A series of digital technologies are coming together to redefine the business and operational models of the industry. The growing demand for travel, both business and leisure, is forcing travel suppliers to go digital with their operations and offerings, so as to meet customer expectations.
- Travel suppliers are now transforming their business model by moving from traditional legacy offerings and systems to digital services meeting travelers’ expectations
- Platforms and digital technologies will continue to be a key revenue driver as enhanced services and data sharing becomes increasingly important from a B2B perspective
- Travel suppliers are moving towards building digital products by establishing platforms and the right process to bring innovative ideas faster to the market
- Digital innovations such as Virtual Reality, Digital Platforms and Internet of Things (IOT) are leading to a complete change over in travel offerings
- Travel suppliers are leveraging digital technologies (data sharing platforms and analytics) to generate insights on customer expectations and design customized offerings
- Digital era would create a seamless travel experience meeting customer preferences and habits
Travel value chain- digital mapping
Business travelers are equipped with various tools and technologies across the value chain to ensure a safe travel.
Business Travelers and Digital Activation
A business travel is a trip undertaken by employees for various business reasons. It could be for meeting buyers or for new business opportunities.
A survey conducted by ACTE in September 2016 on 254 Corporate Travel Managers and buyers indicates that majority of employees travel for maintaining existing buyer relationship followed by associates travelling for new sales pitch.
Impact of digital activation on modern travelers
The continuously evolving travel behavior of business travelers is not always confined to one particular age group. However, the market trends show that the millennials travel behavior is evolving at a fast pace due to their reliance on technology and digital influence on travel offerings.
Personalized booking and travel management
- Mobile applications give real time access to updated information and helps travelers in controlling their travel experience
- Travel management solutions help to manage travel programs better and ensure they comply with corporate travel policy
Easy expense management
- Expense management tools manage end-to-end travel expenses and make it easier for claiming reimbursement
- Travelers can capture receipts digitally and create expense claims from their mobile devices
Increased use of App-based ground transportation
- Ride sharing apps are driving the ground transportation on pick up or arrival majorly due to real time tracking and faster turnaround time
Embracing the sharing economy in accommodation
- Short term accommodation rental platforms are regularly used by business travelers to book a stay of their choice and ensure they stay near their worksite to reduce travel time
Real time information on the move
- In-flight service applications provide real time information on the location, Baggage and other amenities
- Currency exchange has been simplified with the availability of currency rates live on mobile applications
Enhanced Service Offerings
- Digital has led to enhanced services being offered to business travelers across the value chain creating a very seamless travel experience
- Data generated on travelers from various platforms are used by travel suppliers to generate insights and create customized offerings to meet the expectations
Review and Feedback Channels
- Social media channels are constantly used by business travelers to plan their travel and also share their feedback on a broader forum
- Provides end-to-end information on your trip and sends smart notifications by anticipating various emergency situations such as flight delays, cancellations and strikes
Digital adoption by travel suppliers
Digital capabilities of organizations determine whether they are creating value or losing value.
The “plug and play” nature of digital assets help companies create value by adopting services more focused on digital.
In the digital age,
- Travelers are looking at planning, managing, booking online
- Travel suppliers are working towards digitizing the offerings to meet the expectations
Digital era has led to travel companies integrating digital channels and services into their business strategies for better marketing and customer engagement. Companies are altering their organization structure and investing in adoption of new digital technologies to stay ahead of their competitors.
Benefits of digital technologies in travel procurement
- Technology has streamlined the business travel process by helping travelers in planning their end-to-end travel and controlling their travel experience
- It supports travelers in securing the best possible price, staying connected and providing real-time information on the move
- The collaboration of technologies enables the traveler to be more productive and secure while travelling
- The changing travel behavior and technology adoption is leading to cost reduction
- The travelers have been allotted budget based on a base line estimate, which is arrived upon using an algorithm consisting of variables such as available prices and historical travel expenses
- There is also a reduction in cost with modern travelers looking for various affordable sharing options in travel and accommodations
Mapping Supplier costs with services
- Travel managers are mapping various data points on the services offered by suppliers with the cost incurred to ensure there is value for money from their suppliers
- Insights are also used to negotiate contracts with alternate suppliers offering better services
- Reporting and reimbursing of claims are more streamlined with adoption of digital technologies
- There is reduction in reporting errors and time to process to reimbursement
- Data from various platforms internally and externally are being analyzed to make ongoing improvements to processes and negotiate better rates with suppliers
Virtual payment system (VPS)
- VPS is being used across organizations to reduce payment risk and provide a level of convenience to employees not available through the standard corporate credit cards. This system also allows travel managers to track on employee spending
- Travel management tools are being used by travel managers to track the entire travel plan of employees to ensure compliance.
- Regular reports are generated and analyzed to confirm if the travel policies are in line with the external regulations and company policies
- Information on exact location of their employees is being tracked in real time by corporates in the event of any emergency
While travel programs often focus on cost and supplier selection, it is important for travel managers to integrate digital adoption in their programs ranging from compliance to duty of care.
As digital adoption is currently high among modern travelers, travel managers and suppliers need to remain up-to-date on the latest innovations and trends in the digital space. They need to create a path for travelers to enjoy the benefits offered by digital services. Corporate travel programs should also be designed in such a way that they provide travelers the flexibility to self-serve their requirements.
The key to adopting digital technology in corporate travel programs is to implement a mobile strategy for employees to use self-service technologies that are currently available in the travel ecosystem.
- This would help organizations win back employee loyalty as they prefer to control their travel experience over sticking to traditional travel programs
- Travel managers stand to benefit from mobile strategy as business travelers will not have a reason to book off-programme leading to complete compliance of travel policy
- The adoption of mobile strategy will also increase employee productivity as having access to multiple functionalities in a single app saves a lot of time and creates a seamless travel experience
Steps to be followed
- Corporate travel teams need to implement mobile strategy and integrate travel booking with the company’s itinerary plan to achieve higher compliance of using preferred suppliers
- These integrated applications can also receive various corporate offers in real-time which would lead to cost efficient travel booking
- The team should also work towards implementing travel risk management tools in their programs to ensure employees’ safety and have them constantly connected to the organization
The travel managers will have to overcome the challenge of data security and look at adapting their programs to industry’s digital transformation in order to create a travel experience leveraging the digital services.