From cars and shopping to dining and entertainment, technology has disrupted many industries. The travel industry is ripe for such disruption. How will travel managers be affected by technology innovation? How can they harness it to improve their daily work and travel management programs?
While some areas of the travel ecosystem retain older technology (a reality anyone still printing a boarding pass will readily attest to), others are already in the process of being turned upside down by new technologies.
As a global travel management company, our leaders attend travel innovation events throughout the year to keep aware of technology solutions that may help improve the service we offer corporate travel managers and their customers.
We asked Travel and Transport leaders to discuss the top three or four tech platforms that travel managers should be using to make their jobs, and lives, easier.
Booking vs. Traveling: What do your People Need?
When evaluating technology for your travelers, you need to put yourself in their shoes” says Rita McKee, former travel manager and current account manager for Travel and Transport. “If you can empower travelers to find reservation information, itineraries and travel policy information easily, travel managers can spend more time bringing value to the organization and less time answering routine policy and reservation questions.”
The more self-service travel managers can enable, the better, because it allows them to focus on strategic activities that enhance the travel program and support organizational goals.
Travel and Transport's Dash Portal is a one-stop-shop for booking and managing travel, personalized to reach company and user. The information available on Dash Portal includes:
- Unused tickets
- Upcoming trips
- Travel policy
- Travel alerts
- Travel news
- Online booking tool access
Essentially, everything a travel manager and their travelers need is in Dash Portal. Travel and Transport’s Dash Mobile business travel app is another tool that can make travel more satisfying for employees and management of the travel program less burdensome for travel managers.
Designed with corporate travelers in mind, Dash Mobile puts all the important travel information employees need in the palm of their hand, on their smartphone screen. In it, travelers can:
- Book and cancel trips
- Call travel advisors
- Check in to flight and hotel reservations
- Arrange alternate flights
- Share their trips
- View travel alerts and notifications
- Access international travel assistance
Travelers can even use the intuitive app to manage personal travel. McKee encourages travel managers to embrace the technology their travel management companies offer and that their travelers use. “When I was a travel manager I was online all the time, both in Dash Portal and Dash Mobile app. Taking a bit of time to learn the technology travelers use is highly beneficial,” she says.
Learning technology corporate travelers use is a sentiment echoed by April Wheeler, Vice President and Officer, Account Management for Travel and Transport.
“Travel managers need to understand the online booking tools and expense management systems their companies use. They need to be well educated about those and understand them pretty significantly,” she says. “It’s also important for travel managers to have a high level understanding of what technology platforms are being used commonly throughout the travel industry so they can identify technologies that may benefit their travelers.”
One platform Wheeler recommends travel managers look into is Dinova, a dining service with participating restaurants from around the world.
“Companies earn rebates when their employees dine at restaurants participating in the program,” she says. “This is just one example of hundreds, if not thousands, of programs across the travel industry. We put together documents internally that we share with customers in quarterly business reviews to bring awareness of opportunities that will assist travel managers in saving money, adding value or achieving other travel program goals.”
While Travel and Transport regularly identifies and recommends such platforms to its customers, not all TMCs may offer this service to their customers. In those cases, it may fall to travel managers themselves to research and implement technology that will improve the travel experience for their employees and encourage compliance with the corporate travel policy.
Big Data and Duty of Care Technology in Business Travel
Another area worth considering for travel managers is duty of care technology and data insight platforms powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
As we discussed previously, intelligent platforms like DVI give travel managers visibility into leakage and true travel spend, enabling unparalleled optimization of expenses and opportunities for improved profitability. Yet, another area that can be overlooked is duty of care technology, which Joel Bailey, Senior Vice President of Customer Solutions for Travel and Transport, says may not yet be mainstream.
“Travel managers benefit from being fully versed in and having access to information that helps their companies evaluate the safety of the locations their travelers visit. There are platforms that help them identify physical and health safety risks and disclose those risks to travelers so they can prepare properly. Such technology also helps management understand the risks with the locations where they are sending travelers.”
A Recap of the Tools and Skills Travel Managers Need Today
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series for travel managers. We identified 10 skills critical for success:
- Critical Thinking
- Analytical Approach
- Consensus Building
- Effective Communication
- Understand the Travel Landscape
- Relationship Management
- Cultural Intelligence
- Problem Solving
- Anticipating Questions
We fleshed those skills out across five areas, tapping industry leaders for their insights into how busy travel managers can get more done, faster and drive more value for their organizations through their travel programs.
- The Data Travel Managers Digest – Travel managers must use data to understand what travelers want and serve it up when they need it. We considered what data points are most helpful for travel managers to focus on when assessing their travel programs.
- The Tools That Help Travel Managers Deliver Satisfying Service – We highlighted tools that can make this complicated and demanding job a little easier.
- The Importance of Building Cross-Departmental Connections – Travel managers might book trips to islands for their employees, but they don’t work on them. With firsthand insight from a former travel manager, we explored what departments travel managers need to build allies within to do their job most effectively.
- The Need for Cultural Intelligence – Learning more about the countries employees visit for business seems like an obvious priority, but many companies aren’t doing as much as they could be to help their travelers become culturally intelligent. We heard from industry experts on how to help travelers achieve positive outcomes with cultural intelligence protocols.
- The Power of Negotiation – We heard from travel management professionals about the importance of negotiation in accomplishing travel goals and discussed corporate travel buyer resources that help secure profitable contracts with suppliers.
Through it all, we showed how travel management companies can be powerful allies and helpful resources to travel managers in supplementing insight and skills that they may not personally possess or have access to internally at their organizations.
We've combined all of this content into a downloadable ebook that you can get for free here. Share it with your colleagues!
As a global leader in corporate travel management, Travel and Transport strives to empower, champion, lead and delight our employees and customers. Talk to one of our corporate travel experts today about how we can help you achieve your travel program goals and achieve desirable outcomes for your business.