Tuesday 30 January 2018

GUEST BLOG: Duty of Care in an Off-Channel Booking World

Travel risk management has become an exponentially more complex task over the past several years, as more corporate travel activity is booked outside of a company’s official booking channels.  With the growth of easy-to-use mobile apps from suppliers and online travel agencies (OTAs), the proliferation of travel supplier incentives to book direct, and the sheer lack of critical travel inventory via corporate booking tools (CBTs), many corporate travellers simply find it most convenient to book outside their travel management company (TMC) or CBT.

A recent GBTA survey of European companies shows that roughly seven out of 10 travellers booked travel outside their company’s booking tool in the past year, with well over 25% anticipating using supplier and online travel agencies more often in the future (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Off-channel booking activity trends
Source:  GBTA Foundation,
How Traveller Booking Behaviour Impacts Safety, Nov. 2017

The lack of consistent data integration for these off-channel bookings compromises a company’s ability to meet duty of care requirements -- but it doesn’t have to be that way.

As more stakeholders in the corporate travel ecosystem come to terms with the fact that these off-channel bookings aren’t going away anytime soon, leading duty of care service providers are finding ways to solve the challenge of data integration, making it easier and more efficient for them to provide risk management services to their clients.  In turn, this makes life much simpler for the corporate travel managers who are on the front lines of duty of care management.

Additionally, many companies are taking the matter into their own hands, taking advantage of new technology and tools like Traxo CONNECT that help them directly aggregate itinerary data for bookings their employees make directly with suppliers or online travel agencies.  As a complement to (not replacement for) a company’s existing risk management service, these tools enable corporate travel managers to have critical employee location information handy at their fingertips -- which can make a tremendous difference in an emergency, when every second is precious.

Beyond technology, developing a robust, flexible, and easy-to-understand corporate travel policy is paramount.  Heavy-handed policies with complex rules and severe penalties only serve to alienate employees and build a culture of distrust.  To the contrary, engaging employees in policy development gives them agency in their own safety and security, and ensures higher compliance with policy -- even when they book outside official channels. With over half of respondents to a recent Business Travel News survey indicating their companies either didn’t offer risk training, or weren’t certain if they do, there is ample opportunity to improve duty of care coverage through basic policy education.

Taking a multi-pronged approach to risk management offers the most efficient solution for addressing the challenge of off-channel booking data integration.  Corporate travel managers should push their TMCs and duty of care vendors to leverage existing technology to capture this data, as well as explore new services for direct data aggregation they can deploy internally.  Rounding out technology with a cohesive, traveller-friendly policy ties everything together, ensuring your employees are true participants in their own traveller safety.

This blog was posted by Matt Griffin, SVP of Product for Traxo, who are exhibiting at the Business Travel Show next month. Please register for your free visitor pass at http://www.businesstravelshow.com/


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