In the ever-changing corporate travel industry, technology has had the most influence on evolving travel management programs — and it has come in areas beyond traveler tracking tools.
This was the feedback recently received from 50-plus travel professionals at the annual Acendas Travel Corporate Travel Symposium featuring clients, travel providers, travel industry consultants and staff. Case in point: as business travelers have been more accepting of new technologies, the dependency on mobile devices has also grown. Travelers expect to book on their phone; and have their travel preferences and requirements stored in the app.
Other technology applications analyzed during the symposium include:
- Constant monitoring and assistance: Of course, duty of care is not going away and most corporate executives clearly see the benefits of investing in tools to locate travelers. Acendas utilizes our proactive, trip disruption solution and has rolled-out parts of Mission Control 2.0 that allows for 2-way texting. This update to our service means that we can push text messages to travelers when an issue occurs. Automated text messages will be sent to travelers that are impacted. In our final phase, if a flight is cancelled and the traveler needs to rebook, the text will include flight options to rebook and travelers can either pick one option to book without calling an agent, or text back for more options – all without picking up the phone.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI chat is not far off in the travel booking process. We will see a voice command to use Siri or another voice assist device to book travel in the future. In 2-3 years, there will be more choices and voice recognition will be more accepted.
- Virtual payment: This payment method has become accepted everywhere. Travelers who do not have corporate cards need some form of payment. There are fraud issues, and reconciliation delays when using multiple forms of company credit cards. Virtual payment is a one-time use and is an automated process that dramatically improves the reconciliation process.
- Online Booking Tools: SAP Concur and Deem are customized solutions for the client and can help change travelers’ behavior. OBT’s have made numerous advancements in the last 6 months and look for more frictionless improvements for the traveler moving forward.
- NDC: The International Air Transport Association’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) is not going away. Acendas has a joint venture with BCD Travel, who has recently achieved Level 3 certification for the NDC standard, which means it is able to manage offers and orders to and from airlines under the transmission standard. Currently over 65 air carriers are at some level of development with NDC.
- Data Analytics: Acendas has DecisionSource Reporting and Analytics along with other business intelligence tools that integrate multiple sources into one dashboard. It includes large scale data which you can add visuals to tell a story that would be used for senior executives. The breakdown can include spend by carrier, filters data out by length, round trip, out of policy details, hotel spend, and many other options.
The rate of change in the corporate travel industry in recent years has been somewhat mind-boggling to witness. While there are numerous changes with booking (air, hotel, rental car) technology, there are also rental car, hotel and airport technologies that have transformed and will continue to do so. These include increased capabilities of airport self-service kiosks, enhanced information on airport digital displays; advanced check in at hotels with bypass the counter and streamlined securing of rental cars without engaging an attendant.
The end result of the technology is to make a more effective travel program for management, and more frictionless traveler experience.