Business travel has changed. Is your online reservation system keeping up? : Travel Weekly
Travel managers are looking for business travel reservation systems that balance mobility and connectivity for travelers with corporate sustainability and inclusion goals.
Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, Snap Inc. was looking for ways to integrate hotel health and safety information into its corporate reservation system. With 6,000 employees and a pre-pandemic air spend of around $25 million, travel director Sean Parham was quick to search for a better reservations system — but found that his list of requirements didn’t stopped stretching. The company’s sustainability team wanted a system that would produce a smaller carbon footprint; others wanted to add more minority-owned businesses and vendors that used them.
“The way to move the needle on achieving business goals is not to look at the data after the journeys are made, but to provide the insights people need to make the right decisions when they’re in the booking process,” says Parham. “Sustainability is very important to us as a company; it’s a huge part of what we do. We are very happy that there are reservation systems that can help our travelers make smart decisions, which can ask them if they really need to take that day trip to San Francisco. Is it worth the carbon?
Snap is not alone in its quest for a program with less impact on planet Earth. Carlson Travel Network, for example, last month named “sustainable travel initiatives” the primary focus of the $100 million investment it will make in its technology platform.
Sustainable travel is the new normal
Indeed, “the future of travel is changing,” Matt Rogers, head of industry at Google Travel, said at the US Tour Operators Association (USTOA) annual conference in November. “Travel is becoming more sustainable, more meaningful and more inclusive.” And Holland America Group executive vice president Charlie Ball noted that as foreign ports reopen for travel, “we need to be welcomed into our partner communities. We are passionate about the fact that [travel] rebuilt, we do it in a more sustainable way. This idea used to be a tough sell to customers, but now it’s a more fundamental thought process. Companies are looking for ways to measure sustainability. And even consumer benefit aside, there’s no better way to make yourself an employer of choice than to let your employees know they’ll be rewarded for finding ways to improve durability.
In a survey distributed at the USTOA conference, 84% of respondents said sustainability was an “important” or “somewhat important” goal for their clients. And in an Accenture study, 73% of leaders identified “becoming a truly sustainable and responsible business” as a top priority for their organization over the next three years.
Accessibility and inclusion are also priorities
While sustainability has captured the interest of everyone from Wall Street investors to corporate boards, today’s travel reservation system tenders have other new questions as well. Many ask if the content is accessible to users with disabilities and about the ability to add accessibility and inclusion information about providers, such as whether they are or use the services of minority-owned businesses.
At Ovation Travel in New York, executive vice president Michael Steiner noted that “we’ve certainly seen interest in discussing how to adjust travel policies around sustainability and travelers who have different types of physical needs. – and this includes the use of online tools and how to prioritize certain providers Some are looking for an online booking tool that can display not only the carriers that offer the best price and time, but also the least emissions possible, or information on the accessibility of hotels and airlines.
Also at Snap, “we also want to look at what airlines are doing in the DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) space,” Parham says. “These aren’t the only things we’re looking for, but it’s a definite plus to have them.”
Ultimately, however, his top priority is to find a reservation system that makes life easier for his travelers and that they will be happy to use. It should be fast and intuitive, “designed for the phone, not the desktop”, with easy-to-navigate screens and Amazon-like artificial intelligence that tracks a shopper’s preferences and anticipates what they need. need and what he wants to buy.
Enterprise Platform Designers Keep Consumers in Mind
Whatever your business goals, mobility and connectivity are the real keys to attracting business travelers using an online booking platform, says Nikolaj Koster, Head of Mobility at Deem. Consumers are used to shopping on high-performing sites like Amazon, Netflix, and even Uber, and that high level of customer satisfaction should also translate to a business site.
Nikolaj Koster, Mobility Manager, Deem
“In the world of consumption, online shopping is a source of great satisfaction; ask anyone for a great tool and they can easily name five that are rated 4.9 or 5 in the App Store,” he says. “But there are no extraordinarily powerful tools in the world of business travel.” The push is underway to “learn from consumer tools and make enterprise tools just as easy and enjoyable.”
For example, on expense reports, the largest number of transactions relate to land mobility: black cars, car rental, bicycles, train, public transport. What if, in addition to adding data on sustainability and inclusivity, your reservation system also searches for the most efficient ground transportation and highlights the best options? This exact feature is being developed by Deem on its platform and will make it easier for business travelers to focus on their customers, Koster says, and achieve their business goals.