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Feature: Booking Tools


➔ A further reason for the shift in attitude towards booking technology is the fact that


the travel community itself has moved on and there is an expectation, especially from newer employees to the workforce, to be able to make bookings online using tools that work in a similar way to those they use at home. GetThere's Geall says, “There is a bigger


focus around the user experience and personalisation – the consumerisation of business travel. People are technology hungry and becoming more savvy so we continue to focus on improving the interface and the shopping experience.” Saggar goes a step further


and says that Generation Y will cause even greater cultural change within organisations and expect everything in ‘a self-service type manner.’ He also believes that


of solutions to manage changes to itineraries. Geall also believes that the conversation has moved from systems travellers are forced to use, to solutions that are becoming easier to use and that people actually want to use. Technology specialists are being forced to consider usability in terms of the functionality they offer and ensuring the latest develop- ments such as mobile and social media are considered as part of the mix. “It’s about communicating


“We have moved on from systems travellers are forced to use, to those that are easier to use and that people actually want to use”


while booking tools create efficiencies and save costs, the technology creates challenges and can over-educate travellers in terms of the content and functionality they expect to find. “Typically booking systems are born out of technology companies who have not had a relationship with the travel management company. We spend a lot of time investigating why travellers are seeing results differently. Where we are involved in implementation, we take it on board to make sure these things are in synch,” says Saggar. He adds that issues also arise with travellers accessing non-GDS content that cannot be arranged via a booking tool as well the ability


with people in the way they want. The tools are a friend because they provide huge cost efficiencies, but how do we make sure they continue to be a friend?” Shingles is of a similar


view and says that TMCs and technology providers need to ‘demystify’ the process and focus on making the experience similar to what they get on leisure websites. GetThere has invested in development in the past year,


making its technology more flexible to allow for changes in the way people work and conduct business. Initiatives include a new travel policy engine giving travel managers flexibility in how they set policy, right down to individual travellers. This increased flexibility helps managers


set common sense rules which in turn helps travellers understand the policy and drives user satisfaction and compliancy. Despite continuous development of booking


tools in the market and moves to increase flexibility, many corporates find they can still not be adapted to their specific needs.


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Michelle Kipling, directorate and projects manager at Manchester Business School (MBS), initially had a difficult time imple- menting a booking tool. She believes the technology was not flexible enough and there was no clear chain of communication between MBS and the technology provider. “There was a lot of confusion about who we


went to for IT support and who we went to for booking support. We found ourselves in a bit of a loop and it was extremely frustrating from a user point of view,” she says. Kipling eventually switched to the Egencia booking tool and has learnt from the experience. “It’s much clearer and I feel confident they will deal with a query within travel policy,” she says. Kipling highlights many positives of the system including the level of management information and the depth of detail which are providing MBS with greater control, as well as ammunition to change purchasing behaviour and demonstrating savings opportunities. She also highlights the benefit of in-house


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34 I THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE 18 I THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE


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