Trip packages are uncommon in business travel, but the concept isn’t new. Daimler may become the first major corporate account to go all-in. In partnership with AirPlus, Amadeus and BCD Travel, the car maker is testing a program of intentionally limited choice.
After employees select travel dates and trip components, the Amadeus Cyrtic online booking system returns just a few relevant packages based on “historical behavior, corporate policy, corporate supplier strategy and preferences,” according to a press release BCD Travel issued last week.
Amadeus uses these criteria to offer content through a modified Cytric user interface.
AirPlus assists with virtual payment. “Automated invoice reconciliation throughout the trip and via mobile further simplifies the trip for travelers and reduces the time needed to process travel expenses to almost zero,” according to the press statement.
The goal is to simplify processes that cost Daimler the “equivalent” of 25 million euro “in productive working time each year,” according to comments attributed to Daimler head of global travel management Bernd Burkhardt. “With this simple three-click process, business travelers are able to focus on the jobs they’re paid to do rather than on trip administration. All Daimler travelers will use this process as a global standard rooted in digitalization, mobility and user friendliness.”
The pilot at Daimler began last month. The company expects to begin “rolling out the model globally region-by-region in 2017.” It called the program its “FiveStar Model.”
Burkhardt could not be reached for an interview, but officials at Amadeus and BCD Travel provided some details. Their announcement suggested the new model could become an “industry solution.”
BCD Travel executive vice president of global client management Kathy Jackson said Daimler first brought the vision to its suppliers a few years ago but it was delayed because of mergers and other activity. Burkhardt’s three clicks are request, confirm and submit expenses (post-trip). The first two are in place.
Amadeus global head of corporate travel sales and marketing Arlene Coyle said the “smart trip” functionality developed within Cytric serves up three packages. If they want more detailed options, travelers may click beyond those choices.
For BCD Travel, Jackson said, the model removes so much complexity that in-country servicing becomes obsolete. “It can be done in one central location,” she said. Jackson said Daimler has a lot of “point-to-point” travel activity, which helps enable this level of simplification.
“We may expect renewed interest in the packaging concept in managed travel,” said Coyle. Amadeus is working on improved calendar integration and other related features in Cytric.
What has held back the concept before?
“Traveler confidence,” said Jackson. “They think they can get it cheaper.”
She said that ideally a different pricing model would come about, as well, but that’s to be determined.
Podcast 2: Check out Bersen by Deloitte VP Christa Degnan Manning and Travel Tech Consulting president and PhoCusWright senior technology analyst Norm Rose discussing the cost of travel and expense management processes during our 2015 podcast.