When ride-hailing apps sparked more attention to ground transportation, it became a dynamic spend category for travel management. At multinationals, this means slaying the excruciating complexity of suppliers, services and regulations in different countries. Even for a U.S.-only program, asking six experts where a travel manager should begin will get you a dozen answers.
It was inevitable. Following hotel bookings, air bookings are coming in full force to mobile devices for corporate travel. Concur, Egencia and several other travel management companies and booking tech providers already offer them through their mobile apps. American Express Global Business Travel and BCD Travel seem ready to follow in the near term. Carlson Wagonlit Travel started bringing the functionality to its mobile app in February in certain markets.
Industry players are working to smooth out the rough spots in virtual payment for managed travel. Even without commonality across all the players, many travel program managers are finding the benefits of virtual payment too good to pass up. The promise of reducing fraud, streamlining reconciliation and making things easier for travelers without corporate plastic outweighs the remaining concerns.
It’s potentially disruptive to a business travel operation when a travel management company changes global distribution systems. Managing such a change could be top of mind for many corporate travel buyers in the near term as one of the largest TMCs, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, has signaled plans to deemphasize Travelport in its operation. Sources said some other large TMCs also were in negotiations on their GDS contracts, raising the possibility of additional conversions across the industry.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger business travel headache than handling passport and visa applications. That’s why travel managers outsource faster than you can say “red tape.” But with hundreds of providers even in a particular city, how do program managers know which to select? There are many considerations.
It wasn’t always this way, but the current thinking is that consumer-originating hotel content aggregators have a role in managed travel. Look at Booking.com’s industry partnerships. They include SAP Concur and other self-booking tools, as well as Sabre and Travelport. Sabre is adding Booking.com content to a new lodging platform, expected to go live later this year. Booking.com also lined up with a bunch of travel management companies, including American Express Global Business Travel and, through its RoomIt division, Carlson Wagonlit Travel. Like several other corporate agencies, CWT and GBT also bring in hotel content from Expedia.
A Global Business Travel Association GLP team wants to build a directory of hotel properties that clear a safety and security screening process. Conceptually similar to an initiative by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and services from others, that was one of many hotel safety strategies and suggestions shared here by speakers at the GBTA convention last month. Some seemed obvious, but risk experts warned that travelers staying in a nice hotel or visiting a seemingly safe city tend to become complacent.