Where the value is clear, the decision is easy
By Brent Blake, President, Acendas Travel
An influx of technology solutions is having a wide-ranging and positive impact for companies as they relate to employee travel and meetings activities.
That was the feedback we received when we recently hosted 50-plus travel professionals for an annual corporate travel symposium featuring Acendas Travel clients, travel providers, travel industry consultants and staff. Attendees translated those benefits in a number of ways. Of course, the bright, shiny object is cost savings and expense avoidance, but travel administrators are finding professional management of travel is providing valuable services that enhance communications, efficiency, employee satisfaction, crisis management and more.
Here is what we heard:
Show Me the Money: The automation of processes and scanning data is saving our clients’ money. Our ability to monitor hotel rates and airfares after booking reduces expense and enhances their bottom line
Strength in Numbers: Travel policy is no longer based on gut decisions. Our account management system provides considerable data that aids the development and management of company travel programs. We can tell if your travelers are in compliance with policy and thus realizing cost savings. We can analyze usage patterns and use them to negotiate favorable contracts for rental cars and hotels.
Constant Contact: Risk management and duty of care are moral and legal responsibilities of companies to advance the safety and security of their employees. With new journey monitoring technologies, we have the ability to track travelers and communicate delays and disruptions.
Convenience Equals Compliance: An onerous travel policy can create challenges for travel managers seeking compliance from team members. This is important because going outside the policy can be costly, hinder communications and exacerbate duty of care concerns. Utilizing technology and processes to make compliance more convenient has been well-received.
We Have an App for That: No more printing and copying. No more folders and paper clips. No more thumbing through stacks of paper. The development of travel apps for consumers puts everything travelers need at the tip of their fingers. With the swipe of the keypad, people can access travel schedules, reservation information, food and entertainment options, and communicate with others.
Real-Time Results: The term “simple meeting” is no longer an oxymoron. Even the most basic events used to require numerous phone calls, emails and the associated delays. With hotel sourcing technologies, planners can now go online and in real-time fashion secure space and services without the hassle.
Intelligent Conversations: In many cases, without even know it, we are already benefiting from the use of Artificial Intelligence — the use of computers to enhance what are normally human tasks. Siri is an example of such an application. AI is being used to provide better information in a more efficient manner. Acendas Travel is piloting such technology with the goal of delivering it in 2019.
I have spent three decades in the travel industry. For the most part, our business used to be transactional in nature. Companies utilized us to book air, rental car and hotel services. But truth be told, the industry was not focused on the traveler to a significant degree. That is no longer the case. Today, we see a bifurcated mission: 1.) we are a solutions provider and a business partner of our clients; and 2.) we develop and provide resources to take care of the traveler to make their movement the best possible experience it can be.
The change the travel industry has experienced in that past five years has been exponential. I do not see that changing. I only see the experience improving. As a frequent traveler myself, that excites me.