Ken Augustine, Vice President of Travel Technology
It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention.
That came into clear focus for the Acendas Travel team approximately five years ago as travelers were rapidly adopting technology to aid both their business and personal travel. We knew that in order to best serve the changing market, we had to become a travel technology company.
Our investment in technology has had several positive impacts since that day, including the ability to scale up services, offer real-time data, enhance self-service options, improve communications and save our clients money. And, it also allowed us to become more nimble to address quickly changing requirements.
This played out early last year with the COVID-19 pandemic hit and our clients were hit with new challenges: mass ticket changes/cancellations and the shifting rules around waivers, travel restrictions, processing and approving travel, communicating with travelers with immediacy, and finding resources that would provide information for all of these areas while they were updating frequently. Here’s a look at what we have rolled out in the past 10 months:
Acendas Covid Dashboard: With our world turned upside down, there was an immediate need for information. Our team immediately created a “dashboard” that clients and prospects could reference. We included airline and airport information, travel restrictions and bans, health and safety protocols, passport details, hotel and car sanitization programs and more. Business and leisure travelers could do their own research and get answers without waiting for a reply or sitting on hold on the phone.
BCD Travel Trip Authorizer: When the pandemic hit, travel was the first thing to come to a halt. Our clients looked to us to help with approval processes that could be flexible and easy to implement. BCD Travel Trip Authorizer is compatible with every online booking tool, and can be implemented with each client’s specific business rules for the appropriate approval steps. It works across global markets, and doesn’t require any log-in for travelers. In fact, it goes right to the traveler’s email to let them know approval status and any next steps that might be required.
Acendas Inspector Travel Alerts: For those who book travel, we arm them with the latest information so that they can travel with confidence. We send an alert email on the same day the trip is booked, making sure that travelers know about their destination’s restrictions, their hotel guidelines, and anything else that is relevant to their trip. If anything has become clear during the pandemic, it’s how quickly information can change. For that reason, we send another alert 72 hours before their departure to make sure that our travelers have the very latest information. Our enroute service is then handed over to Acendas Mission Control, where we monitor our travelers’ flights to proactively alert of any flight delays or cancellations.
Acendas All Access: When the pandemic first hit, travel came to a standstill and that meant a 15-fold increase in the amount of unused tickets we had to manage with our clients. In pre-pandemic times it was enough to send our clients monthly static reports on the unused tickets that Acendas was managing for them. Now, there were so many more tickets for clients to manage themselves, there needed to be something that clients could retrieve on demand. We created a Acendas All Access, where clients could find out in real time the value of their unused tickets. In addition, we matched this data with the client specific data that we capture at the time of booking. Now clients can report on the value of unused tickets in a specific department, division, or project. We even created a function where our clients could now mark individual tickets to be eligible for a name change. This portal allows Acendas and our clients to maximize the investment that they made in travel before all plans had to unfortunately change last year.
In March 2020, our industry changed forever. But because we invested in technology several years ago, we have been able to continue adding value for our clients. Times changed quickly, and we quickly pivoted with it. Our focus on technology and the ability to leverage it has not only been valuable for us, but for our clients as well. We are excited to see what we value we can build for our clients in the future.
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