Technology is Changing the Business of Travel

By Ken Augustine, Vice President of Travel Technology

Several years ago in a meeting with a business prospect, one of its principals remarked that he came to the meeting thinking he was securing travel, but what he was actually doing was investing in technology.

Our team looked at each other and were overcome with that “guilty as charged” look. It was a bit of an epiphany. Sure, we had been booking airline flights, reserving hotel rooms and renting cars, but what our clients were most intrigued by were our processes that saved them money, created efficiencies and minimized travel disruption.

Today, our technology strategy has moved us from a “station to station” concept where we used to reserve a flight, later book a hotel room, and then rent a car — to a standard of continuous contact pre-trip, during trip, post-trip. These technology resources keep us in contact from the moment travel is planned to the moment you return home. They are enhanced through our relationship as the small to medium enterprise brand of BCD Travel. One of the world’s largest purchasers of travel, BCD’s expansive menu of technology tools is at our disposal as well.

So, what does that look like for the end user? Here is a summary of the process:

Booking Services
With the onset of the pandemic, the seemingly simple and innocent concept of initiating travel was made more challenging. Companies began increasing their scrutiny of expenses, and they were giving more thought to sending people on the road and where they were headed. Our reaction was to create an online resource to manage the pre-trip approval process to ensure proper documentation, routing, feedback and ultimately approval or disapproval.

Because one size does not fit all, the next step includes three different online booking tool options in Concur, Deem and Zeno by Serko to seamlessly book all aspects of your trip. Intuitive and easy to use, we offer a team of support representatives should any questions arise. Upon booking travel, we provide a pre-trip invoice to confirm your booking and help you manage the expenses for the services received.

Traveler Services
As a travel management company, our interaction is not only with those who oversee a company’s travel program, but also the traveler. That is why at the onset of the pandemic, Acendas Travel created an online dashboard of information to support travel activities. This includes a wide variety of detailed information and instruction such as airline contacts, travel restrictions, health and safety guides and requirements, documentation, etc. Related to the dashboard in an online mobile app provided through our partnership BCD Travel – TripSource. It allows for ease of expense, document and information management.

Our efforts to save money are enhanced by our airline and hotel fee monitoring systems. Airfare watch and Hotel Rate watch evaluate the money spent on those two aspects of travel at the time of booking through departure. If the fees decrease to a certain threshold, rebooking occurs and the savings are passed back to the client.

Duty of Care
An increasingly important aspect of travel management is care for the traveler. This has been elevated even more because of the pandemic. Our umbrella technology known as “Mission Control” is a network of monitoring systems tracking elements that affect travel disruption such as weather, political unrest, disease, power outages, etc. This tracking begins before travel begins, continues during the journey and ends with our Listen 360 feedback platform that allows us to track the traveler experience.The responsibility to care for those on the road is serious, and failure to do so creates extensive liability.

Reporting Services
For those who manage a company travel  program, you know the trip is not over when the traveler returns home. The reporting of expenses, the monitoring for compliance, and the benchmarking of data is managed through our BCD-branded Decision Source technology platform. This powerful tool allows for deep and timely analysis to make certain the program not only delivers as intended, but also to discern areas of improvement. 

Among the many unplanned consequences of the pandemic was the exponential growth of unused tickets. With the sudden halt to travel, unused tickets were no longer easily managed by existing processes. The creation of the Acendas All Access ticket management system allowed for a trusted accounting of funds and assignment of tickets.

Is Managed Travel Right for You?
We used to have a long held belief that managed travel is not for every company. But other than a business having a miniscule travel budget, we are challenging our own way of thinking. There is so much more to consider about travel than existed even a year ago. Through our partnership with BCD Travel and investing in technology ourselves, we cannot think of a reason NOT to have a managed travel program.  That is unless you are not looking to save money, become more efficient, and make travel less disruptive for your team.

NOTE: Click here to watch this video to learn more about the Acendas Travel technology offering.