A consumer-style travel experience that also complies with company policy is perhaps the holy grail of corporate travel. Fortunately, it is now within the grasp of many business travellers who are enjoying personalised and predictive choices, with offers that are relevant to them while helping them remain within policy.
The quest to satisfy both traveller and travel manager has been led by travel management companies, which are in the ideal position to collect huge amounts of data and use it to identify patterns and trends that enable them to design better services. Segmentation has already led to technology that improves customisation, with booking processes simplified by online tools and apps that sort options based on previous reservation data and stored preferences.
Taking customisation one step further
Big data takes customisation a step further, providing companies with powerful insights on how their travel programmes can best meet the needs of increasingly specific segments of travellers, or even markets of one. CWT AnalytIQs, launched last year, is a game changer, turning big data into bite-sized insights.
“Having access to data within 30 minutes of a trip being booked is previously unheard-of in the industry and opens up a world of opportunities for travel managers to be more proactive than ever before,” says Amanda Murphy, product marketing manager, Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT).
What drives traveller decision making?
Businesses benefit from technology that focuses on traveller behaviour because it helps them understand what drives the travellers’ decisions. “It’s great knowing what decision was made, but knowing why is much more valuable,” points out Amanda.
CWT has launched and improved a number of innovative, industry-leading technologies in the past year, putting it at the forefront of reporting (CWT AnalytIQs) and of corporate travel apps (CWT To Go). Using the app, travellers are able to plan, book and travel in a way that meets their demands. They can even update their profile on their mobile devices.
Amanda adds: “The early notifications of delays or cancellations means more time doing what they want, whether that’s at home with family or extra time in the airport lounge.”
New features include:
CWT To Go hotel booking – as well as presenting company-preferred options, it also applies ordering based on where you or your colleagues are staying so that you know these will be most relevant
CWT To Go Uber integration – reads your itinerary and suggests rides based on locations within that trip
Social media is another driving force for customisation. In the same way that consumers rely on reviews to inform their holiday choices, business travellers are looking to share opinions about their company’s preferred suppliers. Through CWT Hotel Intel – which is now available on mobile via CWT To Go – travellers can leave reviews for their colleagues and read their colleagues’ opinions to find hotels that are the best fit for them, whether that means gym access, being near their regional office, or free Wi-Fi. The reviews and rating data can also be analysed to provide frontline feedback on supplier performance.
Creating a bespoke experience
Technology is always at work behind the scenes. For some years now, CWT’s Traveller Services team have used telephony systems that allow them to identify the caller before they take the call, so they can see all trips and traveller preferences, leading to a personalised service offering.
It’s an exciting time, with travellers and travel managers starting to realise the benefits of services truly tailored to their needs. Perhaps the best is yet to come?
“I personally believe there will be some exciting technology available in the near future, whether that’s artificial intelligence, virtual reality, or something else completely,” predicts Amanda. “There’s a lot happening in the world around us and innovations abound, so watch this space.”