How To Successfully Integrate Modern Technology Into Corporate Travel Planning
Changes in travel technology happen quickly. These changes can drastically impact how corporate travel planners communicate with their clients and how their clients rely on them for travel needs.
These days, it is almost as if business travelers have been trained by their leisure travel experiences. They expect more control over their trips as well as more traveler-focused technology. So, how is technology changing the world of travel, and how is this affecting corporate travel agents? How can travel agents keep their competitive edge and provide their clients with the most up to date services?
Here are a few ways that modern technology can successfully be incorporated into your corporate travel planning.
Defining Your Priorities
What are corporate travel managers around the world prioritizing when it comes to travel and technology? According to this insightful infographic, some of the main priorities include:
- Real time data reporting (and integrating that data into a travel program)
- Integration of mobile technology
- Instant communication with clients from anywhere, any time
- Travelers booking directly rather than through authorised channels
- Ease of negotiations with suppliers for air, hotel, transportation, etc.
- Mobile apps to easily plan and secure travel for clients
Corporate travel planners have a complex job. It involves organizing many details and making sure every aspect of a travel experience goes smoothly. They also need to be able to coordinate large groups of travelers and often plan trips around conventions, conferences, meetings and other events that require precise timing.
Therefore, any technology that allows corporate travel agents to provide this service to their clients more efficiently is a high priority.
Big data is one way technology is allowing corporate travel planners to create consumer experiences that are more personalized to individual users. For example, a corporate travel planner can use preference data to provide a certain type of client with options that are tailored to them. This allows them to streamline the travel planning process on both sides and results in a better experience for all.
After all, although most travelers booking trips these days are more savvy and connected with it comes to booking their travel, often the enormous volume of information can be overwhelming. By using data to personalize their offerings, travel agencies and event planners can provide a better purchasing experience.
In the next few years, we may even see travel agencies create experiences that are even more personalized, offering clients suggestions based on their profiles, interests, and past behaviors.
Social Media Presence
Social media is not fading away – in fact it’s more important than ever. Websites and apps such as Instagram, TripAdvisor and Facebook have changed the way that travelers research and interact, as well as the way they recommend experiences to their friends and family.
It is, therefore, still very important for corporate travel agents to have an online social media presence. This social media presence should incorporate communications strategies and marketing as well. If done right, social media can be one of the most significant tools that a corporate travel agency can use to build brand awareness and strengthen or create new client relationships.
Corporate Travel Management Tools
For corporate travel agents themselves, having the right travel management tools is crucial. Since clients in the corporate travel niche always have the bottom line in mind, they are seeking the best value for money when they are hiring the services of a travel agent. So, in order for the travel agent to be able to deliver this value they need to be able to find the best services at the best price – as efficiently as possible. A powerful analytics tool will help them do this.
Streamlined booking tools will also help travel agents quickly find and secure the right transportation, accommodation, and flights for their clients. The best travel management platform should include booking tools, expense management, travel insurance, analytics and risk assessment features to help corporate travel agents to do their job better.
Many travel agencies are starting to use instant messaging apps that allow their clients to chat with them directly. This can help clients to contact the corporate travel agent and get a quick response when they need help, such as when a flight is delayed or there is an issue with a hotel booking.
In some cases, these travel apps are powered by artificial intelligence and can find answers for clients without the need for a live travel agent to respond. These bots can even be programmed to respond to frequently asked questions. The best part is that the more questions they answer, the more they learn and become better at helping your clients. There will still be instances where the client needs to reach a “real” travel agent, but for basic inquiries and common questions this is a huge time saver!
Technology Cannot Replace the Human Touch
Although it’s important for corporate travel agents to keep themselves up to date on the current technology, there’s no technology in the world that can replace the human touch.
There are computers and complex algorithms that can offer lots of data, but it takes the experience and insight of the travel planning to put that data to use. All of the data in the world becomes much more powerful when placed in the hands of an experienced, well trained agent who can anticipate the needs of the corporate traveler.
Also, it’s important for travel agents to build great, lasting relationships with their clients – another thing that technology can’t replace. The more a corporate client works with the same travel agency, the more the agency gets to know the client and can better understand their needs.
It is important to remember that technology is a tool that can help corporate travel agents do what they do, but in the end the most important part is caring about going the extra mile to help the client.
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