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Make business travel easy, efficient and future-proof


Ask anyone how they book their personal travel, and the answer is simple. “Go online. Book a flight. Book accommodation. Job done.”

In fact, for younger generations and those booking shorter leisure trips, visits to a travel agent are being reduced as searching and booking online becomes ever more frequent. Destination brochures are a rare sighting and printed itineraries are no longer required. Every detail is housed in an app. It’s fast moving, it’s efficient, and it’s easy.

Business travel, on the other hand? That’s a whole different story. Cumbersome processes and tired policies seem to be the norm, with business travel often not moving as quickly as leisure travel. It’s no wonder employees (particularly those without grey hairs) may be somewhat disenfranchised by the business travel experience.

So how do we begin to make business travel easy, without disregarding the policies, procedures and duty of care requirements that are needed for a successful programme? Here are my top recommendations on how the industry needs to progress.

Meet travellers where they are

Travellers want to book their flights, accommodation and transport in the same way they want to manage the rest of their lives. That is, wherever and whenever they please. Desktop-only systems are no longer relevant. Travel providers need to make their systems available on all devices – from smart phones, to tablets, to wherever the future will take us (anyone thinking about voice activated bookings yet?). We are now even seeing the emergence of travel booking through smart phone messenger applications; completely removing the need to speak to another person or contact a call centre. Innovation and technology will dictate where the travellers are booking – and travel providers need to get there quickly.

Remember me!

Once a traveller has created a profile, they expect their data to be remembered, and for it to be used effectively. If a traveller flies to Amsterdam every second Tuesday, why should it not be proactively booked for them each fortnight? Of course, fare changes or special deals should be communicated, but managing regular bookings automatically would be a huge value-adding service. It also goes without saying that the individual’s seat, meal, luggage and transfer preferences should be recorded and replicated automatically. In this digital economy, it’s all about personalisation and predictability. All the data’s there and travellers want us to use it! With all that data, however, comes a certain level of responsibility. Travel providers should use the data in ways that are meaningful and relevant – making travel more efficient, and providing a more personalised experience. It shouldn’t be abused or used incorrectly. Otherwise, travellers will simply becoming disengaged, or worse, annoyed.

Make the process seamless

Taking service to the next level, providers should do as much work for the traveller as possible, so all they need to do is click a button. This shouldn’t be labour-intensive – it should be seamless. Travellers should automatically receive their boarding pass in a format that works with their preferred device, can be checked-in automatically, and should receive an expense-friendly invoice all at the same time. The experience at the airport should also be worry-free. Travellers should be told in advance of any delays, should easily know which gate their flight is leaving from (so they don’t need to keep looking at the departure board every five minutes), and should be proactively informed of any changes, so they don’t need to strain their ears to hear any announcements.

While it would be easy to dismiss the preferences of the tech-savvy and the millennials, we need to remember that these traveller characteristics will soon be the norm and the younger generation will very soon make up the majority of the workforce. It’s therefore the responsibility of the business travel industry to not only keep up, but to stay well ahead. Organisations should look to partner with travel partners who continuously innovate their products and services, and are preparing for any and every technological advance. Only then will travel providers be able to provide easy, efficient and future-proof travel.

Orazio Lambiase

Head of Distribution, easyJet

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