Tuesday, 20 February 2018

GUEST BLOG: TMCs of the future

With an influx of household AI assistants from Amazon and Google, and news of a billionaire sending a car into space, expectations of technology are rocketing ahead.  
But how do such advances translate to TMCs? And more importantly, what will clients expect in the future?

Major consumer-facing brands are obsessed with providing the best user experience and easy-to-use interfaces. Traditional B2B booking tools haven’t necessarily kept pace with these changes. However, a more consumer look and feel to booking tools can provide significant dividends to businesses.

A personalised, intuitive user experience for individuals, combined with a customisable offer for organisations, is the most effective weapon when it comes to fighting leakage. With a new generation who’ve enjoyed quick and easy online shopping all their lives entering the workplace, TMCs who can satisfy those requirements will be best placed to help their customers more easily manage their business travel.

Direct connect
For years, the industry has used the GDS for airline bookings and customers have paid fees for the ‘privilege’. Direct connects have provided a much-needed revolution in distribution.
Travellers can now book fee-free with several major airlines and have all the options they need at their fingertips - everything from adding luggage after booking to increased legroom, or even the ability to strip the fare down to the bare minimum, with no extras, to cut costs.
The next generation of TMCs must use direct connect as standard to meet customer demand.

Engaged and motivated staff
Paying reservation agents commission or incentives on bookings doesn’t give customers the service they deserve.

The role of a TMC is to save a business money on its travel, so account managers should be focused on their customers’ interests, rather than promoting options based on whether or not they are receiving an incentive from a particular provider.

Furthermore, reservations agents are much more engaged and motivated if they can demonstrate absolute integrity, without worrying about their personal finances.
Customers want quality advice, support and savings tailored to their needs and by knowing their decisions don’t impact directly on their agent, they can be confident they are making the right choice every time.

The future is now
We are convinced these steps are the key to the next generation of TMCs. At Click Travel, we have incorporated all three and are seeing the benefits on a daily basis.

This post was written by Jill Palmer, CEO of Click Travel. Jill will be participating in the Business Travel Show conference session ‘TMCs – are we paying them too little, or too much, and with the right model?’ in the Pillar Hall at 11.30 on 21 February.

Click Travel will be exhibiting on stand B650 with its next-generation travel management platform, travel.cloud

Monday, 19 February 2018

GUEST BLOG: What makes a truly ‘traveller first’ travel programme?

There are two variables your business travel programme has likely been graded on – cost savings and traveller safety. On paper, these existing programmes have long since achieved these goals: as a manager of team travel, you secure the best pricing, manage expenditures, and have a system in place which tracks travelling employees’ whereabouts.

But in reality, a travel programme isn’t a complete success unless employees are satisfied with it. And you know why: employees are unlikely to follow a process that doesn’t make it easy for them, and not following the procedures only leads to out of policy spend.

Whether you’re building a brand-new programme or overhauling your current managed or open programme, thinking more employee-first will improve your employees’ satisfaction, and perhaps contrary to what you might first think, their safety, and your visibility.

Fundamental #1: You’ve made removing friction your mission

It sounds obvious, but it’s worth repeating often. Employees want a travel programme that’s easy to use and seamless from beginning to end. To achieve this, ask yourself the purpose of every click and every form filled out.

If you find yourself confused, asking questions, or double-checking what to do, your travellers are most likely feeling the same way. Those pain points explain the “why” behind high rates of leakage from the travel programme and other instances of noncompliance, signalling that it’s time to adjust the traveller-averse portions of the process.

Fundamental #2: You’ve built for the apps your travellers already use

By using a familiar, recognisable, and dependable apps like Uber, travel managers reduce the number of employees overwhelmed by how to use the system within the programme. The biggest category you’ll find these apps in is most likely the relative newcomer of on-demand travel, including apps like Uber, so there’s no learning curve to overcome.

These apps also have business functionality already built in, ready for you to tap into! 

Fundamental #3: You’re listening to what your travellers want

Employees want to be heard, and they need a channel through which to be heard. Travel managers who actively solicit feedback from travellers are being receptive and proactive, and employees feel they have a greater role to play within the company. From exit surveys to open office hours, creating and maintaining a constant feedback loop ensures that the traveller-first programme continues to consider options employees want.

Fundamental #4: You’re measuring spend, safety, AND satisfaction

The simplest way to gauge employee satisfaction is to ask them! Sending travellers a survey after each trip is an easy way to build feedback into your existing framework. Questions can be as simple as asking “how satisfied are you?”, or get into detail about the hotel, flight, and ground transportation accommodations. Consistent eights and nines on a scale of one to 10 are a new measure of a successful, traveller-centric programme.

Summing up: why employee satisfaction matters

These four fundamentals minimise stress and maximise satisfaction by utilising what employees already have, taking their feedback into consideration, and making improvements to any hindrances.

At the end of the day, the happier your travellers, the more likely they are to comply with company travel policy. You can’t argue against that being a win-win!

Uber will be on hand to meet attendees and answer questions at the upcoming BusinessTravel Show in London on 21st and 22nd of February. Find us at booth B452.

If you’re planning to attend, you can make an appointment to meet a representative here.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

GUEST BLOG: Bags of money

As Ryanair and Virgin introduce new luggage policies, buyers must ensure these are communicated to travellers, as small changes can have a big impact on a trip, says Denise Harman, senior director of programme management, UK & Ireland, CWT

Last month Ryanair rolled out its new baggage policy that only guarantees cabin bags for priority passengers, and Virgin confirmed it will no longer allow ‘smart baggage’ anywhere on its aircraft, if batteries can’t be removed.

We’re only at the start of 2018, but already it’s obvious that travel managers will have to be faster than ever to adapt and communicate changes to airline policy than ever before. In 2017, travellers had to react to a cabin ban on laptops to and from certain destinations, and ensure their devices are charged enough to turn on and be tested.
Having a travel policy that can flex when suppliers change the rules is really important. For some companies, it could be more cost efficient to upgrade their policy to include priority boarding than to have people wait 20 minutes at baggage collection. With larger volumes of travellers a week, they could work with their TMC and suppliers to negotiate a better deal.

At the root of all this is obviously safety and efficiency – efficiency at turning round a plane for Ryanair, as lateness both hits their bottom line and annoys customers, and for Virgin, the safety of passengers with battery stability. But also communication here is key – it’s so important for travel managers to be able to relay these changes quickly to avoid any unexpected delays, cost – or at worst – missed flights.
As a weekly business traveller, I want to get off the aircraft and head straight through passport control not worrying about the baggage collection as I’ve got my wheelie with me. For my hops from Dublin to London, it makes sense to me. So, it’s a double-edged sword for frequent flyers – as more people travel with large cabin baggage to avoid the charges on checking in bags, it takes longer to load the plane and get on the runway, and that causes us and the airline a delay, which I also don’t want.
Time is money. And money is bags!
This post was written by CTW who will be exhibiting at Business Travel Show on 21-22 February 2018. Visit CWT at stand B230 and talk to our teams from across the business, who will be there to help you find more about how to effectively manage travel and expenses. You will even uncover new efficiencies through the perfect blend of data and a customised traveller experience.