Tools of Choice

The next generation of booking solutions can enable travel buyers to rebuild standout programs
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit a giant reset button for business travel, giving the industry a chance to take a second look at platforms and technologies that will be vital as volumes ramp back up and travelers return to the road. One such mission critical system for a corporate travel program is its booking tool – a technology which, prior to 2020, was progressing in ways that could described as uneven, at best. But this time around may be different.

Whether provided to corporate travelers by the travel management company or directly by the travel program, booking tools offer attractive features to employers. Not only can businesses impose policy restrictions that are important in controlling costs, but these tools also provide additional traveler information – which may be more important than ever given the demand for details about travel restrictions, health requirements and other protocols.

Yet despite the potential value to all involved, travel managers still face challenges ranging from choosing the right tools to getting travelers to use them. At the same time, platforms vary widely in the level of currency and overall usefulness.
In fact there appear to be two camps, says Nick Whitehead, CMO of Serko. While some are investing ahead of the curve, bringing innovative technology to solve the new paradigm of business travel challenges, others seem to be operating in survival mode and are not keeping up. “These legacy platforms risk becoming redundant as travel buyers look at other ways to solve their problems,” he says.

Those at forefront, on the other hand, are readily becoming first adopters and pursuing new opportunities such as NDC, says Dale Eastlund, vice president, supply chain partners for CWT. “It provides them the opportunity to be a differentiator, where there are others that prefer to sit back and see how it evolves before jumping on the bandwagon.” As unlocking airline content through new distribution capabilities begins to develop further, he says, it will be important for booking tools to have a robust solution to facilitate this opportunity.

Categories: Special ReportDistribution and Booking Tools

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