In the past, the leisure travel industry embraced web and mobile technologies-offering everything from great user experience, to ratings and reviews, to discounts on optional services. Corporate travel evolved with a slightly slower pace, and business travelers were left in what seemed to be significantly fewer choices. Now, that gradual development is getting speed inside the face of intensifying consumer expectations.
People traveling for business today often book their hotels online through a supplier website instead of using their company’s booking platform, perhaps unaware the company booking platform provides carefully negotiated discounts at “preferred” hotels. Only 29% of travelers book hotels at the same time as air, and 50% of all the business travel hotel/accommodation stays are booked beyond the company’s hotel program. Why?
Two big factors drive many business travelers to book out from policy: they want an even more engaging user experience and so they question whether approved booking channels will meet their requirements.
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For many years, the travel business management faced significant barriers to meeting traveler expectations while consumer-facing online travel agencies built impressive user interfaces calculated to generate sales conversions. Unlike leisure travel, corporate travel requires complex business rules and must curate content from multiple resources for properties and rates. New technology has removed many of the previous barriers for business travel. Inspired by the most popular apps and internet based booking sites, new hotel booking technology in the corporate travel industry allows busy travelers to find and book rooms in a few clicks any device.
Like their consumer-targeted counterparts, the latest business travel booking tools include a highly-visual experience that permits travelers to get a sense of a property prior to making a reservation. Unlike tools for leisure travel, the latest business travel tools meet specific needs of corporate travel programs. They identify negotiated rates at preferred properties, can be programmed with rate caps for specific cities, and can implement travel policies for multiple groups of travelers.
BCD Travel’s TripSource Hotels, for example, provides a consumer-grade user experience that factors in all of the complex rules associated with a corporate travel program. It fully integrates properties and rates from global distribution systems, hotel booking aggregators,and internet based travel agencies. Travelers obtain access to an extensive variety of hotel properties, including independent and boutique selections, from multiple hotel booking agents.
The platform offers multiple search options, including hotel name, neighborhood, amenities and ratings. Additionally, it provides property photos, interactive maps, globally recognized ratings, mobile and booking capabilities-coupled with agent support and the cabability to track and maintain travelers safe. Moreover, agents and travelers both shop and book using the same platform. Both of them utilize the same business rules returning the identical properties and rates, irrespective of who’s booking.
“We recognize that there is no such thing as rate parity across content channels without any single source to get the best hotel properties and rates. TripSource Hotels generates a single result display identifying properties and rates from multiple content sources.” said April Bridgeman, SVP of BCD Travel. “We launched with just a few key content dexkpky62 and may continue expanding these to ensure global travelers generally have great properties to choose from regardless of destination.”
It’s no secret to anyone who has traveled on business the final several years: business travel has excelled at supporting travel managers while lagging in traveler satisfaction. Now that technologies have removed barriers previously dampening the traveler experience, the emphasis is shifting. But it will be an error to conclude that added traveler satisfaction comes at a price towards the corporate travel program.
The Renaissance of business travel isn’t practically making travelers happier plus more productive-it gives companies the chance to influence travelers for the first time. There are actually big paybacks for businesses that influence travelers to help make better shopping decisions.
Once you know how travelers are shopping and what they’re booking, you can influence those decisions for savings and duty of care purposes. The more bookings channeled with the travel program, the greater the complete rates. Those negotiated rates are exactly like an insurance policy companies can fall back on when spot rates exceed them.