Business Travel: Are You Still Paying or Already Saving?

Raise employee satisfaction, reduce costs and optimize processes: Why an online booking tool kills three birds with one stone.

My last blog post focused on business travel in the digital age. The fact is that, despite virtual technologies, face-to-face meetings are indispensable. I also demonstrated the primary objectives of travel management and highlighted the crucial role played by IT in its implementation. Here I primarily referred to the use of an online booking tool (OBT) – often used as a synonym for a travel management system (TMS), an online booking engine (OBE), internet booking engine (IBE) or a self-booking tool (SBT) – as a central management element.

Goals of Travel Management

Online booking tool: one solution – three dimensions

With an OBT, the objectives of travel management can be illustrated and optimized. This blog entry examines the concrete leverage it provides. Let’s take a look at the dimensions of employee satisfaction, cost reduction and process optimization:

1. Employee satisfaction

For 81 per cent of business travellers, the support provided by the employer during the trip greatly influences the employer’s attractiveness. This conclusion was drawn by “Chefsache Business Travel 2015“, a study by travel management companies in the German Travel Association (DRV). The following functions also contribute here:

  • Simple operation and simple processes (consumerization)
  • User experience / personalization
  • Useful hints for the trip (weather, visas, safety, ground transportation etc.)
  • Hints on company rates and what these actually include
  • Poorly rated service providers are no longer listed for booking
  • Automatic services during the trip
  • Safety (in connection with risk management)
  • Central hotline for questions or emergencies
  • Waiting list for preferred flights

2. Cost reduction 

Our experience shows that ten per cent are always possible – and sometimes even savings to the tune of millions can be realised. A study by Amadeus makes similar estimates. According to this, 39 per cent of companies save between 10 and 20 per cent, and 20 per cent save over 20 per cent of their direct costs following the introduction of an online booking tool. The following benefits are primarily effective here:

  • Contracts with service providers can be managed optimally on a daily basis (corporate contract management)
  • Easy-to-view, holistic price comparisons
  • Automatic management of results for compliance
  • Missed savings and their reasons displayed automatically
  • Unused ticket management
  • Lower transaction fees per booking
  • Increase in untouched bookings

3. Process optimization

Process optimization is the underestimated dimension. This is where significant indirect costs can be reduced – the potential here usually lies in the region of 25 per cent (particularly for companies where employees travel a great deal). This is possible through:

  • Worldwide tool with country-specific adaptations that can be managed and administered centrally
  • Tailored process for travel management “end-to-end” or “door-to-door” as well as pre, during and post trip
  • Efficient booking through reduced search times
  • Simple approval process and travel cost settlement
  • Quicker overall process thanks to integrated process and pre-set data
  • Automatic services (automatic exchange, automatic max. number of employees on plane cap, individual file finishing)
  • Integration into existing systems (HR, accounting)
  • Illustration of company-specific workflows
  • All data is automatically considered in the booking process (e.g. frequent flyer cards)
  • No redundant data retention
  • Reporting to improve policy

Every pot has a lid that fits

One of the classic questions: standard or individual solution? Thorough integration primarily makes sense for companies with a large volume of travel. Lower volumes, however, can be managed with a standardised online booking tool. The solutions on offer are as varied as the requirements – the selection requires a detailed analysis of needs and a comparison of different systems. For international companies, it’s worthwhile looking at global solutions. To finish, I would therefore like to give an overview of the most popular online booking tools:

OBT(mainly) owned by headquarter country
SerkoShareholdersNew Zealand
eTravel AeTM (sunset 2016)AmadeusUSA/Spain
Deem (fna Rearden Commerce)ShareholdersUSA
directBCD travelNetherlands

Picture credit: Shutterstock

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