Given the intensity of its people’s travel, The Boston Consulting Group is not known as a stickler on expenses. But relatively flexible policies and willingness to spend on better services aren’t everything. Ease of process is important, too.
BCG head of global travel Gehan Colliander said the company is moving toward a more employee-centric travel program. Some observers would interpret that as meaning employees get more freedom on where to make their travel plans. Not BCG. Sweden-based Colliander hailed a “clear, end-to-end process” that avoids the complications of fragmentation.
The company in March released an Amadeus-built iOS itinerary management app to employees in more than 80 offices. It imports trip details, facilitates flight check-in, synchronizes with calendars, alerts users to delays or cancellations, suggests alternative flights and connects to agents for rebooking.
“We’re defining the strategy to make life easier for the traveler and make sure they’re compliant by ensuring mobility,” said Colliander in a Tuesday interview. “Many apps are not corporate-endorsed apps. They can help you on the road, you send an itinerary to an email, but then your trip is on that app. We’re providing the organization with one app, with the same look and feel. It’s only displaying the info that has been processed through the proper channels — the contracted travel agency and preferred vendors.
“Then as a traveler you don’t have to bother uploading, or finding telephone numbers,” she added. “With other apps, when you click to call, you go to an airline, but they can’t help you. Here you click to call your agent in your designated country. You can also can click to call after hours. This app solves for the needs of people on the road irrespective of which global distribution system the booking was made in.”
BCG travelers download the app from its internal store. It uses BCG’s branding. Sporting the firm’s look and feel should draw more employee adoption, said Colliander.
“With many apps out there including TMC apps you may have a different organization’s logo, and also the product push,” said Colliander. “So you’re sitting with an app and someone is pushing you info on non-preferred vendors, etc.”
Also part of BCG’s traveler engagement efforts, the firm last month published a new travel portal. Incorporating aspects of social media, the portal “brings us much closer to travelers,” Colliander said. “It’s more interactive. They can rate vendors, post comments, give us the opportunity to get back to them, reinforce the program policy compliance, etc.” The portal offers “one stop” for info on destinations, travel alerts and travel agency phone numbers.
The BCG mobile app is based on the Amadeus Mobile Platform, also available to travel agencies and other travel companies. An Amadeus official told The Beat there are “several” more corporate clients.
A number of corporations have expressed interest in their own branded travel apps. Providers including Amadeus, Roadmap and Travelport build those. Shipping conglomerate Maersk reportedly is looking to develop its own. Maersk travel officials did not reply to a request for an update.
Colliander also is president of GBTA Europe.