By Ryan Riley, senior product marketing manager for Egencia, a leading TMC that is part of the Expedia Inc. family. Originally from the USA, he is now based in Paris, France.
Can you feel it? Travel is at a turning point. After years of cutting costs and amenities; coupled with heightened security concerns, travelers have had enough. They want the travel industry to respect their time, their comfort, and their safety. Top that with the expectation that this be done with the same experience across every device.
That’s not something the corporate travel industry has excelled at in recent years. As a result, we see business travelers booking outside of their policy and corporate booking tools.
When business travelers turn their backs, we all lose. Travel decision makers and TMCs. Lost compliance leads to lost data, lost savings, and lost buying power. Not to mention the inability to track and assist travelers when emergencies strike.
What’s the solution? Disruption of the status quo. It’s time to bring humanity back to business travel through policy, products, and service for travel bookers. An improved experience leads to increased satisfaction. Increased satisfaction leads to greater compliance. Greater compliance leads to better program management.
Winning back business travelers and arranger’s trust is not an easy feat, and if you aren’t including them in the conversation, you’ve already lost.
To do this, you must put travelers and arrangers first by designing products truly based on their needs through the application of the scientific method and Test & Learn approach. The concept of hackathons really embodies this. By gathering people from different teams in the same room for a whole day, it allows a company to innovate and deliver impactful, quick wins for clients. For us, this has led to integrating the Routehappy API into our app, then bringing it to your wrist via a smart watch. Or most recently, the development of our expense suite.
Travel management companies (TMCs) need to follow the lead of the leisure industry as shown by our sister companies at Expedia Inc. and put the evolution of their product in the hands of their customers. Before rolling out a new feature, show different versions of it to travel bookers who can then vote with their clicks. We do this at Egencia, allowing the best experience to win and as a result all customers benefit with an easier to use, and more satisfying experience.
We believe this customer-centric and data-driven approach allows us to develop nimbly with our customers’ input at the fore. Here are a few examples of what our customers voted to market this year:
The Egencia app
- Past Trips – Now travel bookers can view and replicate any previous trips completed in the Egencia app, saving time and frustration.
- Group Trips – When traveling to a conference or meeting with a group of colleagues, travelers can now invite others to share itineraries, including chosen transportation and hotel options.
- US Rail – Coming soon, US travelers will be able to book domestic rail travel directly in our app for the first time.
- Arranger Mode – For the first time we have opened our app beyond travelers. Now live, travel arrangers can view any trips for travelers they’re responsible for.
Traveler Risk Management
Global travel news page – We spent most of the past year discussing this critical topic with our customers. Travelers want to feel safe and travel decision makers want more real-time knowledge to better manage their traveling staff. Therefore, we will soon release a global travel news page that is updated every 15 minutes with the latest security updates to give our customers the visibility on world events they need.
Policy compliance dashboard – Better experiences will lead to improved compliance, but without a robust reporting tool, it’s hard for travel managers to recognize the impact. That is why, with the Egencia Travel Intelligence Suite, we have built a series of dynamic, visual tools to provide a “snapshot” of an account’s activity for quick, efficient decisions alongside key insights and easy-to-access data. This gives time and knowledge back to our travel managers.
We are also enabling data for our account managers internally to help them build strong and valuable partnerships with our clients. That is why we have given them a new policy compliance dashboard to help their customers save more money by understanding what the key drivers are behind policy compliance and how to make it better.
Expense is still a key pain point for business travelers. Business travelers say filing expense reports should take 23% less time than it does today and 41% still create paper expense reports manually. *
To help travelers reduce the time they spend submitting expenses, we have introduced one-click expense capabilities. The Egencia Expense Suite is officially open for business with 29 companies who’ve joined the Open Connect Platform.
After all, we were the first TMC to build our own technology platform and this methodology allows us to continue setting the pace in the business travel technology revolution.
Egencia will demo these nimble innovations and more at the GBTA convention in Boston, Mass. Come see us at Stand #1951 at GBTA from July 17-18 to learn more about our approach to customer-centricity.
*4th edition, Egencia Business Travel and Technology Survey 2017