By Sergio Fierens, senior director, technology, Egencia
- With an increased number of travel restrictions, related but not limited to COVID-19, what is Egencia doing to help travelers make confident decisions about current and upcoming travel plans?
Specifically, for COVID-19, Egencia has launched the Egencia® Travel Advisor, to help our customers better mitigate risks by researching any restrictions in place for a particular travel plan. The tool provides information about COVID-19 related restrictions, including border restrictions, quarantine policies, required health or health care documents, and PPE or mask mandates. The tool also includes information about other potential risks, giving users access to all types of emergency information in one in place, making business risk management processes easier.
Corporate travelers, arrangers, HR professionals and travel managers can search and access advisory information for any origin and destination. The information in the Travel Advisor is sourced and curated by Egencia’s Crisis Management Team, the Expedia Group Government Affairs team, and 3rd party emergency content providers like Sherpa.
Egencia uses machine learning to present a list of suggested locations, specially selected for each user, based on past, current and predicted travel patterns. This allows all business units to become proactive risk managers in support of the travel management process.
- Besides research tools, how is Egencia providing timely and relevant information to the users when they book their travel?
In addition to the planning and research tools, Egencia has embedded advisories in the shopping experience, helping with the decision making process. Egencia surfaces restrictions and emergency alerts that apply to the traveler’s origin and destination, based on the travel dates provided during the shopping experience.
Moreover, Egencia is part of Expedia Group, one of the world’s leading travel companies. Through that connection, information about health and hygiene standards and protocols comes directly from suppliers. Egencia displays the restrictions and amenities applicable for specific flights, hotels, car rentals or train journeys during shopping.
The advisory information is integrated into Egencia’s SaaS corporate travel solution, making it easier for travel managers, arrangers and travelers to stay up to date on the latest advisories by surfacing information in the booking experience. It is also fully embedded throughout the Egencia global platform, including in the itinerary page, mobile app and virtual agent.
- What about beyond the booking experience? How can travelers access advisory information after they have booked?
While restrictions and regulations change, the trips web page and the trips screen in the mobile app will always display up-to-date alert information.
After booking, the user receives confirmation e-mails that contain the relevant restrictions that apply to the travel at the time of purchase. Restrictions and mandates around the globe change frequently and suddenly; that’s why four days before departure we send a “Get Ready to Go” e-mail with updated advisory information.
Moreover, Egencia® Travel Advisory has been built into Egencia’s virtual agent experience. The virtual agent will recognize whether the user has booked travel to destinations that have active alerts and automatically volunteer advisory information on those destinations. It will also detect a user’s intent to ask for details about travel advisories and point out relevant tools and content. Users can chat with the virtual agent experience to act on those advisories, making changes to their travel plans as needed.
- After a new restriction or alert is raised, how can travel managers identify and reach out to the affected travelers?
Travel managers count on Egencia’s Traveler Tracker to determine who is (or will be) affected by a new restriction or mandate. They can search globally or by a specific country, city, airline or area on the map. Sorting and filtering capabilities that allow users to further refine their searches have recently been added for better risk mitigation and management.
Once travelers whose journeys may be impacted by a new restriction or alert have been identified, the travel manager can access their contact information or contact them directly from the Egencia Traveler Tracker tool. They can send them an email or an emergency push notification directly to those who have the Egencia app installed on their mobile device. In that way, the travel manager can provide specific guidance regarding the disruption.
Travel managers can view all messages sent from Egencia Traveler Tracker in the last 90 days, including timestamps, channels used (e-mail or push notification) and if (and when) the travelers have read the message. Through this reporting, they can help to validate knowledge transfer and support due diligence.
- After the travelers impacted by the restriction are safe, the second priority for travel managers is to minimize future and financial risk on their travel programs. What tools do they have to take proactive action?
Egencia’s customers have access to a large depth and breadth of policy, approval and reporting features and continue to enrich these capabilities, making it easier for users to operate with a high number of restrictions worldwide — many of them changing frequently and suddenly.
Egencia has improved settings and added new features to facilitate defining out-of-policy routes and destinations, including the capability to apply risk assessments such as corridor exceptions for those trips. New features also include security approvals flows. When activated, these flows require authorization from security managers or other stakeholders for all bookings in restricted destinations.
These capabilities are all easily accessible from Egencia® Travel Advisor and the resource dashboard in Egencia Traveler Tracker, putting disruption management tools at travel managers’ fingertips, whether a small business or large international corporation.