Is your travel technology a strategic procurement partner?

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EuanMcNeil_HS.jpgWe’re in the throes of the 4th industrial revolution, where technology has changed the way we live and do business. Research shows that by 2020, half of the world’s business travellers will be millennials. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that the role of travel management companies has evolved way beyond making travel bookings.

Offering an online booking tool is no longer sufficient. To remain competitive, travel management companies need to draw on the latest technologies to create integrated travel ecosystems through which they can help their clients achieve specific business objectives.

Process-driven travel management has evolved into a strategic procurement function, requiring professional skills in benchmarking suppliers, issuing RFPs, negotiating contracts and collecting data for KPIs, says Euan McNeil, General Manager of FCM Travel Solutions SA, in this month's SmartProcurement.

Your travel ecosystem should consider all stakeholders: the traveller, the procurement- or travel manager and the organisation. It should include tools like profile management, booking, reporting, security and more importantly, these tools should all link to each other, and integrate all global markets in which your company operates.

IS YOUR TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY DELIVERING ON THE FOLLOWING FOR YOUR ORGANISATION?

1. Is it customised to your company’s needs and travel policies?
Each business traveller using the online tool, should only be able to access approved travel products. For example, if your company’s policy only permits its employees to stay at certain hotels, travellers should only see the specified hotels on their travel tool, and book their stay accordingly.

2. Does it provide a streamlined travel approval process?
Your travel system should provide an electronic approval application that talks directly to your mobile apps - allowing travellers to apply for approval at the click of a button. Line managers would be notified immediately and approve the application within seconds, initiating an automated real-time booking process.

3. Can it provide valuable data feedback and pick up on trends?
Imagine what you could do with valuable data feedback that includes - for example - identifying “road warriors” who spend excessive time travelling, and who may be facing burnout, or consider tendering their resignation. This is priceless information for a human resources department, or a company with a high staff turnover.

With the right technology, you could be notified when an employee travels frequently enough to justify business-class travel, or if they’re travelling so often, that it might become unsustainable in the long run.

4. Does it allow for an automated risk management processes?
In a politically volatile world in which Mother Nature also plays a role, you need risk-management solutions such as direct access to multiple crisis control centres across the world. Technology solutions should integrate your booking- and reporting systems, and immediately locate affected travellers to provide real-time evacuation advice. If your system was able to do this, it could also manage concentration risk by informing you if too many employees are travelling on the same flight.

ARE YOU THE PROCUREMENT MANAGER OR TRAVEL BOOKER?

Answer the following questions to identify whether you are maximising your travel technology:

1. Does your travel technology help you control travel costs?
Your integrated technology should enable you - the travel procurement-, or travel manager - to keep tabs on total trip costs, and manage supplier agreements. This will reveal whether supplier contracts are under- or over performing. With the right technology and provider, you can draw on travel intelligence to assess how other companies’ - in the same industry - travel management programmes compare.

2. Can you easily manage expenses across the organisation?
Does your travel technology enable your travellers to simply upload images of their receipts by means of an app on their phone? This facility would automatically total all receipts, store them, and send them for approval - greatly simplifying the expense management process.

3. Are you provided with effective data analysis?
Can you review travel programme areas, using a heat mapping functionality that flags where you are performing strongly, or need more work? Or internally benchmark the performance of different divisions within your company? To provide you with a detailed analysis of your travel activity and spend, your system should include dashboards and KPI scorecards, as well as on-demand reporting.

ARE YOU A BUSINESS TRAVELLER?
IS YOUR TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY PROVIDING YOU WITH THE FOLLOWING FEATURES?

1. A platform to stay connected?
A good business travel experience is about being connected. Your technology should allow travelers access to manage their travel reservations, using their mobile device - giving them control to manage necessary changes, as well as receive important notifications pertaining to their trip, for example flight delays. Certain apps - provided by leading travel management companies, even allow for information to be accessed in an offline state - meaning that travelers do not have to worry about high data fees.

2. Does it allow for sharing economy travel?
Your travel technologies should enable you to consolidate sharing economy suppliers for accommodation or transfers (such as Uber or Airbnb) into a manageable channel. Similar to other transactions, travellers should be able to claim back, or keep record of the costs, by uploading a receipt using a smart integrated mobile app.

3. Can it help to ensure your safety?
Should travellers happen to be in a country and encounter a sudden safety risk, does your technology notify them immediately? If you partner with the right travel management company, you should have access to crisis control centres worldwide that are able to assist travellers, should they need to be repatriated.

If you didn’t answer yes to ALL of the above questions, your integrated travel technology may not be meeting your requirements

For more information on technology specialising in travel, contact FCM Travel Solutions.

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