We have all heard the phrase, ‘change is the only constant’. While this may feel true, we must ask ourselves what aspects of change are imperative to incorporate into your travel programs, and how do they align within your foundational principles?
Change for the sake of change is not practical, but embracing a balance of new ways to solve the needs may require an adaptation to how we think and how we move forward in what is the “Now Normal”.
The Now Normal concept accepts that today may be different than tomorrow. While we need to maintain a sense of consistency and stabilization in our business travel programs, our processes can take on a more agile approach to incorporate necessary shifts in how your travelers are serviced and the technology that can directly correlate to delivering your foundational objectives.
This article is addressing the opportunities to review and reassess the traveler experience as it relates to Online Booking Tools.
Are we trying to chase leisure?
As a travel stakeholder, you are passionate about your program and delivering to the objectives of cost containment, safety and security of your travelers and the actionable data that brings it all together.
The corporate online booking tools were initially designed to provide travelers with self-serve technology, while maintaining compliance and delivering the data to track the program activity. It delivered to the need for cost reduction and managing compliance while empowering the traveler with trust to make their own buying decisions. It was practical but did not take into consideration the experience, rather a booking flow.
Leisure, leading with emotion
Over the years, leisure booking tools such as Expedia, Priceline and Booking.com provided new functionality that fed into the traveler’s emotion with enhanced personalization. As a result, your business travelers may be expressing dissatisfaction with their current tools as the have new expectations about what the buying experience ‘should’ be like. Here lies the imbalance.
With the advancements in technology and new online tools entering the market, we continue to see an evolution towards a more consumer-grade offering, yet it is highly unlikely the experience will ever match that of leisure booking tools. The Now Normal requires us to step back and identify the opportunities and to reassess our foundational objectives for online booking functionality with the need for a traveler-centric approach and more desirable experience.
Start the review without thinking you know the solution
If your business objectives remain straightforward, (high online adoption, reduction of leakage outside of the preferred suppliers, data to track and provide duty of care), you may want to ask yourself a different set of questions:
- What will I gain from changing tools?
- Will the benefit of a strong traveler sentiment along with increased compliance overcome any barriers due to the cost of change and potential increases in transaction fees?
- Is there another way to impact the traveler experience by alternative considerations?
Only you will know the answer to these questions. Change can be quite positive and, in many cases, necessary.
A possible way to think differently is to go into the review without a preconceived idea of the solution but focusing on the objective of the result. What is the bottom line you are trying to solve for? Is it a question in isolation or can it be addressed with a broader perspective towards traveler satisfaction? Think about what you need and want to accomplish and bring in different points of view to the discussion.