The digital difference

As Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) unveils its new strategy, we explore what it means for corporate travellers


Has there ever been a more exciting time to be involved with the business travel industry? We find ourselves on the cusp of dramatic change and CWT is undergoing a significant transformation itself as it rises to meet the challenges of a changing world, with bold investments in innovation and people. The goal is to make a genuine difference to our clients’ travel programmes.


Catalysts for change include: the extraordinary pace of emerging technology; the huge success of disrupters such as Airbnb and Uber; and the expectation of corporate travellers to have the same consumer-style tools and experiences that they enjoy in their private lives to be delivered in their business lives.


The internet and plethora of apps available to travellers has led to an environment in which digital noise can sometimes deafen communication between travel manager and traveller as individuals go off channel to get the great personal experience they desire.


Addressing this challenge, CWT has unveiled its new strategy, ‘CWT 3.0: The Digital Difference’ to balance individual wants against corporate needs by delivering a seamless experience. This is achieved through the perfect blend of people and technology.


Johan Wilson, CWT’s new country director UK and Ireland, said: “We will be different from other travel management companies, with a greater digital offering. The trick is in combining digital services with personal service – listening to and understanding what our corporate clients and travellers need.” CWT announced three areas of strategic focus:


  • Delivering a consumer-grade traveller experience

  • Optimising travel programmes

  • Bringing smart innovations



The traveller experience

Our aim is to deliver a consumer-grade experience for the traveller, which in turn will improve compliance to the travel programme. Travellers want a consistent and seamless experience across all channels – digital and offline, so we are:


  • Refreshing CWT Portal to bring modern look and feel

  • Updating CWT To Go with the latest in interface design and user-experience research

  • Investing in travel consultant tools and training to ensure they are equipped to deliver personalised service

  • Boosting content and personalisation of our preferred OBT


Personalisation will be taken to a new level, through data analysis. For example, traveller preferences and history will be incorporated in approved recommendations.


As mobile devices increasingly become an extension of the self, we are extending our capabilities across the traveller journey. The hotel booking experience is improved, for example you will soon:


  • Search by office location

  • Read hotel reviews during the booking process

  • Get reminders about a missing hotel reservation


Social collaborating will be a significant theme for 2017 and will encourage in-channel booking behaviour as travellers become more effective in planning together and meeting up.


Hotel is a critical part of the traveller experience, which is why CWT has created a division dedicated to hotels. Johan said: “The hotel space is where there is a lot more to do. Customers are demanding more. It’s about us being able to provide more specific content to meet the needs of companies and individuals. We will offer an even more tailor-made approach from a wider field of hotels and more personalised deals. Content will be drawn from further multiple sources – besides our GDS partners, we’re already working with, for example.”


Building on our traveller experience, CWT aims to deliver the best attendees experience too. This includes the integration of events apps into CWT To Go and messaging tools, and the development of a meeting online booking solution.



The travel programme

CWT is integrating tools, data and services to deliver more intelligence and content. This will give travel managers all the information they need in one place, helping traveller satisfaction, compliance, savings and control. Travel and expense data is already available in CWT AnalytIQs and off-channel booking, and meetings and events data will be integrated soon.

Next year will also see the globalisation and integration of CWT Program Messenger with CWT AnalytIQs and CWT To Go for greater compliance and traveller satisfaction. 




CWT will continue to invest in innovation to pilot, test and nurture new ideas that will improve the customer experience. For example, we are partnered with leading start-up incubators like Plug And Play and Welcome city lab, which help us to anticipate the trends, test the ideas and invest to nurture the most promising ones.

Johan said: “It’s exciting to be in the middle of an industry and a great company like CWT at a time of such transformation. This strategy is a key part of that transformation. The emphasis will be on continual development of digital solutions. It’s not just about where this will take us in a year or two, but how we keep evolving.”

What drives traveller decision making?

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 Aman