Automation in Business Travel: What’s Amiss?
Automation has been a buzzword in business travel for a few years now. We have seen the emergence and success of many ideas towards automating various nuances of business travel. From automated travel and expense management systems to self-booking tools and so on, technology has been making steadfast advancements to simplify corporate travel and increase efficiencies. These systems surely go a long way in saving time by doing away with legacy manual methods that are tedious and prone to errors.
But with all this progress, companies are far from realising the true potential of travel automation at a global scale. Let’s take a look at some of the missing pieces of the puzzle:
Lack of owned technology
Organisations that work with multiple partners, and TMCs that provide efficiency solutions to corporates are mostly dependent on third-party online solutions and technologies. As a result, they face challenges with scalability, customizability and compliance adherence. Also, these technology platforms usually demonstrate location-centric capabilities when deployed and are not uniformly globalised in the real sense. However, it is not always feasible for organizations to invest and develop in-house platforms that can support the different nuances of their travel requirements worldwide.
Low adoption of booking tools
Increasing the adoption of online booking tools (OBT) is a pertinent challenge in companies. While the reason for this is largely accrued to the user experience, one of the crucial factors that gets overlooked is the limitation of fare availability on the tools. Let’s not forget that almost all these tools are equipped to only provide GDS content and miss out on a massive, lucrative universe of LCC content and many other travel suppliers whose content doesn’t sit on the OBT. Plus, the fares available on the OBT are host country fares and not global fares sourced locally. Another challenge is global booking tools may not display fares from or can be deployed in certain geographies.
Country-specific automation tools
There are companies that use automation tools specific to a certain country and become a major roadblock to global travel requirements. That being said, it may not be feasible for a company to always opt for a global tool given implementation and cost constraints. Yet, they are probably missing out on savings they could achieve with global fares accessible anywhere.
Global fares could get locally restricted
Another dimension to the automation game is that even with globally contracted fares, corporates are able to make them accessible to employees only at a local level. Which means, only employees of a host-country have access to the fares available there, but not employees of other countries. Employees traveling to destinations in multiple countries find themselves either struggling or unable to purchase the locally available fares, resulting in higher spends. And even if they manage to get access, payments can be a real pain.
Real automation is achieved when every penny that can be saved has been saved, and people have not struggled in that effort! In order to achieve as much of it as possible, businesses need to start thinking on the lines of what they are missing out in the world of fare content, and how they can standardise their systems at a global level with more control and ownership of technology.
Authored by Preetham Narayan, Chief Operating Officer, Mystifly Global Consolidation and Technology Service Pte. Ltd.
Mystifly is present at the BTS 2017 in February, Stand No. B 944. Drop by for a free demo of MyFareBox – the award winning Global Airfare Consolidation platform, and Azygos – Global Corporate Travel Procurement Framework from Mystifly.