Better online content, tools needed for business travel managers

A ONE-STOP source consolidating content such as hotels, car rentals, air fares and ancillaries could be the solution to issues of non-compliance corporate travel managers face today.

The point was raised during a panel discussion on disruptive technology at yesterday’s CAPA 2014 Asia Pacific Corporate Travel Innovation Day held in Singapore.

Ian Heywood, vice president, global supplier strategy, GDSs, Travelport, said: “Life is currently a nightmare for travel management companies (TMCs). There’s an overload of information that isn’t coming in in a sensible manner, you’ve got to go to multiple websites to access it, and airlines continue to have different product differentiation.

“This is breaking down booking models. The corporate traveller may go out and book it themselves, or the TMC may book the flight but can’t book the ancillary and has to go to the airline website. And this is costing a lot more money. No one in this industry is making the returns they need to make.”

For technology to successfully enable TMCs, Heywood argued: “You need all of the content in one place to be able to access, whether that’s LCCs or full-service carriers. It means the fares (and ancillaries) on the same aggregated shop list, not different systems on the same page.”

“Basically, you want a one-stop shop. You need the TMC or travel consultant to be able to book all of this content in the same workflow very effectively and efficiently.”

Serko’s head of strategic sales & market development, Michael Thorburn, commented that travel apps in the travel space today were narrow in scope but deep in content and functionality. “For instance in India, you can use the IndiGo app, but what about the other airlines? SpiceJet? Jet Airways? And what about managing the other components of the trip? The taxi, the hotel, and so on.”

“To make a decent mobile solution for business travel, it must sit on top of a single, substantial data source,” Thorburn commented.

But Andrew Wong, regional director, Asia, TripAdvisor, pointed out that current technology already allows for this. “At TripAdvisor we have APIs that you can stick into the GDS, etc. Content is out there, but the problem is the willingness to break down those walls to make things available.”

Similarly, a travel manager and procurement specialist who wished to remained anonymous told TTGmice e-Weekly that such content was already in place, although she admitted that the online booking tool used by her company “could be better”.

Asked how then could business travellers be encouraged to book within policy, she said: “More education needs to be done to tell business travellers why online fares are better. When travellers book on their own they ignore factors such as safety and the need for the company to capture data

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