Open Minds for Open Bookings

What is all the fuss about on Open Bookings, Managed Travel 2.0, and Going Rogue?  I am here to tell you that this is not a trend; this is the future of a managed travel program.  Don’t be fearful or a naysayer before you hear me out.  I believe in the managed travel program.  I have spent 23 out of the last 26 years living the “traditional managed program”.  Three years ago, I realized that I had to change, my program needed to change, or I (as travel manager) would become irrelevant in the future.

I know managed travel delivers savings, security and service; the time has come for travel managers to add efficiency to their program deliverables.  The next generation of business travelers lives his/her life at lightning speed with access to information immediately and its personalized.  It is important for travel managers and suppliers to prepare to service the next generation of travelers.  Today I will focus on the travel manager and how you can prepare for the change.  Here is how Open Bookings / Managed Travel 2.0 can fit into your current program:

  • Savings. Almost all managed travel programs have some form of leakage: hotel, air, car, ground transportation, etc.  If you can capture that “rogue” spend, then you can use that to leverage your buying power even more.  We know that when it comes to supplier negotiations, the data rarely matches.  Imagine this scenario:
    • A supplier comes to you saying you didn’t meet your night or volume commitment.  You promptly pull out a consolidated report including all booking sources, OBT, TMC, and the dot com sites.  This data shows that you exceeded expectations and can probably get that next level of discount.  There is immense power in the data, if you have access to it.
    • You can also use the data to determine benchmarks and design a process that encompasses benchmarking to report on your spend regardless of where it is booked.
  • Safety / Duty of Care.  I hear travel managers say “If they book anywhere, I won’t know where they are in a time of emergency” well I am willing to bet that you don’t know where your travelers are 100% of the time.  If you have leakage, providing a process to gain that information will allow you to service your travelers in a time of need.
  • Service.  One thing that has not changed in all the years I have been managing travel is the travelers need to know “what’s in it for me?”  Road warriors and alike all want their points, their miles, and high quality service.  They are regularly marketed to for items like bonus points, ancillary items, and services that personalize their travel experience.  These websites and marketing techniques touch the heart of travelers and by embracing these into your program, you will show your travelers that you do have their best interest at heart and help you gain a personalized trust with them.  When this occurs, travelers will trust in your program as a whole.
  • Efficiency. Time is money.  Providing multiple means for your travelers to get their work done and their travel bookings made will create efficiencies.  I know that most of the impact of the business trip is what happens after the booking is made.  It is the consumption part of the trip that is most aggravating and costly.  If travel managers embrace the latest technologies into their travel programs, they can a create process efficiencies that will meet both the needs of the traveler and the travel manager.
    • Please embrace mobility.  Have some sort of mobile strategy for your travel program.
    • Most travelers that search outside the traditional means are not doing it to go rogue, they are doing to find better deals.
    • A comment I hear a lot is “I don’t want my $300hr engineer wasting time searching all over the place.”  I have to tell you if that engineer wants to search all over the place he is going to, whether you provide a traditional tool or not.  The waste comes when he finds what he wants, it is in budget, and you make him take more time to go back and book through your source.

All of these things are what I call being “Traveler-Centric and Manager Friendly”.  Do I think every company’s culture is ready for Open Bookings, probably not; I do think travelers will begin to dictate flexibility and that will change the culture of the travel program.

Tomorrow we will explore how suppliers can prepare and partner with travel buyers to meet the needs of their travelers.  You know the ones, the high yield business traveler.

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Categories: Business Travel, Corporate Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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A blog by Jim Hetzel (FlightStats, Inc.), Michael Jacques (DATABASICS, Inc.) and Theo Szymanski (Sabre Corporate Solutions). The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of our respective employers.

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