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Self-service SOLUTIONS


Self-booking tools have become more flexible and are being embraced with more gusto than ever before, automating up to 80 per cent of bookings, says Linda Fox


CORPORATE booking tools are no longer being talked about in the context of friend or foe. The discussion has moved on and there are now many success stories out there of companies of all sizes making significant savings through automation. This maturing of attitudes can be attributed


to a number of factors, from the increasing proliferation of the tools and the financial benefits they bring, to the increasing attention paid to implementing the right system and the education and training processes employed to ensure buy-in. GetThere director for Europe, Middle East


and Africa, Jason Geall says: “If you look at the corporate travel market, booking tools are now deeply embedded. In the US, Asia-Pacific and the EMEA region, large corporates, spending hundreds of millions of dollars, see the benefit of them because every booking made online saves a significant amount of money in transaction fees, ticket price and because of visual guilt.” He believes the better use of negotiated


rates alone, made possible by booking tools, can contribute as much as 30 to 40 per cent of cost reduction within a travel programme. Egencia UK managing director Jonny Shingles supports the view that it’s no longer about friend or foe but says attitude is down to the individual organisations. He believes self-booking tools save money and people should not think of company money any different to how they think of their own. He sees increasing interest from sectors with traditionally less take-up of technology, such as the legal profession, and points to high- profile cases of expense abuse which have put pressure on corporations to act responsibly. “Self-booking tools give a great deal of transparency. Some firms might think they are not going to do it themselves as well as some PAs so we see a big difference in terms of who is ultimately paying for the travel. But it’s a great opportunity to show you are being careful with a client’s money.” HRG's director of technology and product development, Paul Saggar, has seen similar shifts in attitude in the banking sector which, a few years ago, was not embracing the idea of self-booking tool solutions. “Now that they are, things are changing and


the challenge is more about regional cultures. A banker in North America is not the same as a banker in Asia. We still don’t believe there is one global tool and some of that is about content and some if about usability. Customers who are taking this seriously and want high adoption will look at each region,” he says.


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