Modern choices: technology has created new ways of managing corporate travel. Picture: 123RF/ALPHASPIRIT
Modern choices: technology has created new ways of managing corporate travel. Picture: 123RF/ALPHASPIRIT

People are on their phones all the time. According to research conducted by Hackernoon, in 2017 the average adult spent more than four hours per day on his or her phone.

Even scarier still, it turns out most people spend nearly nine hours online each day, outstripping the amount of time they spend sleeping or doing other vital tasks.

What’s certain is that online technology has changed our lives and how we do business. Agreeing on business deals has gone from a handshake to the click of a digital button. Physical locations have been replaced by websites.

In corporate travel, online booking tools (OBTs) have been gaining ground as modern business travellers are keen to manage their trips on their own. OBTs allow travellers to access information and make simple bookings as conveniently and friction-free as possible.

Does this mean the traditional travel management company has become obsolete?

“Absolutely not,” says Oz Desai, general manager of Corporate Traveller. “The reality is that there is a clearly defined role for both the travel management company and the OBT in the corporate travel landscape, and we can expect them to operate side by side.”

Desai explains there’s no need for a company to choose between an OBT or a travel management company. Instead, it can opt for the best of both. “OBTs enable travel management companies to combine human service with technology to create a more advanced level of customer service and to cut costs.”

Desai lists some common scenarios for corporate road warriors and their companies and explains where an OBT is the best solution and where a human travel agent can add clear value.  

Simple trips and simple changes

You’re booking a trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town for two days to meet your most important clients. You’ll need a flight, transfers and accommodation. Although you’re quite sure you’ll see everyone in the allocated time, you know there is a chance you’ll need to prolong the trip.

If you are online savvy, an OBT is the way to go here. Your company’s travel policy can be built into your booking tool to help you maintain control of your travel programme. Your company can, for instance, prioritise certain airlines or load negotiated rates, so you’re sure to book in a few simple clicks without breaking from company policy.

Even basic changes can be made at the touch of a button, so if your meetings run late, you can quickly change your flights and extend your accommodation online.

Complicated itineraries that require visas

You’re planning a trip to woo the investors of the company, who are located around the world. Your trip will take you to Paris, Lagos and New York. You are a South African passport holder, so you’ll need to apply for visas for most of these destinations.

Although you could book this trip via the OBT, there is a high likelihood that the travel management company will need to step in at some point. Opting to speak to your travel management company instead of going through the OBT from the start can also give you peace of mind.

Experienced travel managers will be able to optimise your travel efficiency by using their industry knowledge to suggest better itineraries. A traditional travel management company will also help you arrange your forex, assist with your visa application and arrange airport transfers, all in one transaction.

If the traveller likes to splurge…

Does your company have to deal with travellers who like to overstep the budget from time to time? Are these travellers oblivious to the fact that the flight that leaves 15 minutes later is actually half the price? Or do they like to take their chances and book car rental in a higher class than the travel policy allows?

Both a travel management company and an OBT can be a huge help in this case. Your travel expert can help guide travellers on cost-effective options and ensure adherence to the company travel policy. Similarly, when an OBT has been set up correctly in conjunction with your travel management company to include rules and preferences, those travellers will have less freedom to overstep the boundaries.  

When you simply need to book out of policy

Life sometimes gets in the way of rules and regulations. You’ve been away on business for weeks but you expect to be home in time for your daughter’s wedding. Then disaster strikes and you miss your flight.

In such a case, it’s time for the human to step in. An OBT will allow you to rebook within the restrictions of the travel policy, which might mean you’ll miss this important milestone in your life. The human travel agent will know that if there was ever a time to make an exception to the rules, this would be it.

No single approach

There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to travel booking, which is why it is important to find a blended model that works for your business. Travel technology should save time for travellers and travel bookers by allowing quick access to itineraries and travel information, while providing the additional benefits of reducing booking fees, travel profile management and adherence to travel policies.

While this sounds ideal, every business is different, so it’s important for you to find the travel technology that fits your budget and booking habits best.

Corporate Traveller experts will work with you to identify your business travel requirements and advise which option would be most beneficial. Click here to book a demo of Your.CT today or call 0877 40 5090 to speak to an expert.

This article was paid for by Corporate Traveller.