The “end-to-end” experience has been part of travel management vernacular for many years. Understanding what it entails, much less actually achieving it, may not be as straightforward as it seems. Rajiv Rajian, Amadeus executive vice president, global business travel and travel channels, Americas, walks through how such a process should benefit travelers, travel managers, TMCs and tech providers.
It’s a phrase we’ve all used: end to end. But what do we really mean when we say there’s opportunity to improve the end-to-end business travel experience?
As overused as the term can be, there are significant opportunities to deliver new and enhanced capabilities and services across the end-to-end business travel lifecycle. Continued focus on improvement and innovation across the travel process can yield big benefits to corporations, corporate travelers, the business travel agencies that serve them and, of course, airlines, hotel companies and other travel suppliers. Given the complexities of business travel and the need to balance traveler satisfaction with corporate needs relative to policy and cost, all parties involved must give proper attention to multiple perspectives and layers.
Step one is understanding the objectives of all the constituents to collectively shape business travel experiences.
The key players I’ll explore here are on the buy side — the traveler, the corporate travel manager, the TMC/business travel advisor and the technology partner that provides tools to discover, book, manage, track and reimburse. Servicing a journey each step of the way requires end-to-end approaches unique to each. Ultimately, business travelers benefit from a shared goal to deliver better journeys.
End To End For The Traveler
We all know what it’s like to travel for business. From the moment we start searching for the best air itinerary and fare, or the right hotel, we want an experience that is smooth and efficient from booking all the way to expense reimbursement. We want effective and efficient support when a trip is disrupted or plans change. Booking a trip and filing expenses should be as easy for the first-time traveler as it is for the seasoned road warrior. Business travel means time away from our families and our teams, so anything that makes trip planning, and the processes and policies that go along with it, less of a chore and more of a convenience are welcomed.
End To End For The Travel Manager
Corporations are looking for savings by maximizing their return on travel spend. They want to achieve traveler satisfaction and productivity by delivering a high level of service, and they want to fulfill their duty of care. Travel managers are focused on balancing these company needs with employee preferences. Travel managers’ end-to-end concerns include the creation, management and maintenance of policy; maximizing the benefits of preferred supplier agreements; and ensuring duty of care and the full range of responsibilities that come along with it. In considering the business traveler experience, travel managers also should provide an easy-to-use corporate booking tool, offer personalized hotel options and evaluate out-of-policy requests that could significantly improve the productivity of the trip. And, of course, there is the selection of the right TMC and technology partners to help achieve corporate objectives.
End To End For The Travel Management Company
The TMCs that help corporations reach their goals want seamless access to the best content along with solutions that help them optimize revenue, cut costs and deliver great service. This requires the TMC to, in some capacity, serve as a seamless extension of its corporate clients to ensure a level of service and quality that meets each company’s expectations — increasingly on a global scale. TMCs also decide on the right mix of investing in proprietary technology and selecting the right technology partners to achieve their own end-to-end business objectives related to revenue, costs, productivity and service delivery.
End To End For The Technology Provider
Travel technology providers marry the needs of travelers and travel managers, and deliver solutions that help TMCs to both fulfill these needs and meet their own internal business objectives. End to end for companies like Amadeus means an ongoing commitment to helping travel management companies and corporations better facilitate each stage of each traveler’s journey. When new sources of content and new technology standards like NDC are implemented, it’s incumbent on technology partners to collaborate closely with key stakeholders to plan and build seamless integration into the end-to-end experience.
Challenges Of End To End
One of the challenges of addressing end-to-end needs to support best practices throughout the travel journey is that different stakeholders within organizations have different priorities. In a study we conducted with the London School of Economics, CFOs displayed the greatest focus on operational efficiency and cost minimization. In contrast, corporate HR executives placed highest priority on employee productivity while CIO/COOs were most concerned about risk mitigation and cost minimization. This is where TMCs and underlying technology providers can really add value — aligning various interests for the ultimate outcome, and improving the business travel experience while achieving multiple equally important objectives.
Discover Your End To End
No matter how challenging, the potential ROI is too immense to ignore. Understanding each stakeholder’s end-to-end needs will help us identify gaps and arrive at the best solutions for companies, their traveling employees and the business travel agencies that serve them. As I look ahead, NDC has the potential to disrupt our industry’s current end-to-end processes. It’s more critical than ever for TMCs to ensure they have the right technology partners and the right game plan to navigate through the changes NDC, and other potential disruptors, will bring to end-to-end processes.
Take time to define what end to end means to your team and organization. Stress test your current processes to determine if your end-to-end capabilities complement others so you’re collectively delivering the best experience to business travelers. This is a solid step in future-proofing your travel management program so you stand ready for disruption.
• Arlene Coyle On Who Owns Business Travel
• Pedro Ceron On Creating The 21st Century Managed Travel Platform
• Mark Hollyhead On Capturing More Customer Value In Business Travel