Vanessa Zeiher-Kaya is the global principal corporations segment marketing manager for Sabre. In this guest post, she reviews the key points travel managers should keep in mind as they seek out the right travel tech partners.
There are dozens of technology providers, which often makes the process of finding the right one drawn out and difficult for travel managers. Complicating the situation, the travel industry is continuously evolving. Emerging technologies and market disruptions force transformation. Solutions that meet today’s requirements may not support tomorrow’s. You need to feel confident that your technology partner has the capabilities to support your current needs and the expertise and market leadership to fuel travel innovation and provide an advantage in the years ahead.
How well do tech providers know the industry? Does their expertise align with your needs? Do they cultivate partnerships with other companies that are part of the ecosystem to solve industry challenges and innovate for the future? Do they have experience in helping businesses like yours achieve their goals? Do they have the breadth of knowledge and experience to understand and support your business end to end?
To help narrow down your list of potential travel technology partners, here are some things to carefully weigh during your search.
Specialization in business travel and the traveler experience
Although this may seem basic, it’s important to identify technology providers serving travel marketers around the world in every form (airlines, lodging companies, ground transportation providers and so on). They should have enterprise-wide systems and customization that enables travelers to plan, shop and book within corporate travel policy and preferred supplier guidelines. The technology partners you’re considering should have proven capabilities to help you achieve the right balance of individualization and travel spend management. They should build solutions that solve today’s corporate travel challenges and also focus on delivering next-generation solutions.
Network of global TMCs, suppliers and technology partners
You want technology companies that have well-established, working partnerships with TMCs, suppliers and other third-party tech firms. Single out those uniquely positioned to lead innovation, and deliver tangible value to corporations and a frictionless traveler experience. Determine if travel technology companies have demonstrated strategic alliances to participate in the industry’s evolution towards next-generation retailing, distribution and fulfillment. New Distribution Capability will be a major factor in managing business travel in the years ahead. Having partnerships in place to ensure NDC benefits stakeholders across the travel ecosystem is crucial to ensure your success. A 2018 report from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and American Express Global Business Travel revealed that 89 percent of travel managers were concerned that NDC would threaten cost control objectives. Eighty-seven percent were concerned about the effect on policy compliance. Having the right travel technology partner to help you navigate the many complexities associated with NDC will be vital.
Commitment to helping you achieve travel program goals
Travel policy is the foundation of effective travel management. The travel technology providers you’re considering should fully understand the task facing travel managers: balancing traveler expectations and experience with maximized efficiencies, policy compliance and cost management objectives. With the disruption of new technologies and booking channels challenging existing travel policies, finding that balance is more complicated today than in years past. According to a 2017 study by Sabre and the Global Business Travel Association, job satisfaction is influenced by an organization’s policies on travel, safety, security and well-being, and processes for booking, pre-trip approval and expense reporting.
A provider’s solutions should deliver a consumer-like user experience. That is key to ensuring higher traveler satisfaction and compliance. Solutions need to be reliable and flexible, with the ability to scale while keeping pace with your changing needs. They should seamlessly integrate booking, itinerary management, messaging, virtual payments, expense reporting and travel risk management.
A trusted advisor
Each travel technology company on your shortlist needs to ensure the solutions they bring to the table are configured to meet your unique travel program and traveler experience requirements. Each should have highly experienced, dedicated teams that can share best practices and provide onsite support and online training to help you realize greater results. They should fully comprehend the pressures of meeting business goals while staying on top of industry trends and changing market dynamics. They need to add value by offering insightful analysis, advice and technical expertise at every step.
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