The Importance of Online Booking Tools

It’s no secret that when it comes to booking, travelers prefer the simplicity and typically streamlined experience of self-service and direct booking. According to Global Business Travel Association research from 2016, only 36 percent of travelers reported being “very satisfied” with their company’s online booking tool, with a whopping 84 percent of respondents saying that they preferred to book directly with suppliers in at least some cases.

While the results of this survey show a clear preference for many travelers, it is also a clear sign of the work to be done by travel managers to drive adoption of their online booking tools in order to enjoy the many benefits.

Benefits of using preferred online booking tools

Corporate travel online booking capabilities have ramped up in recent years and narrowed the gap between them and booking through suppliers directly or online travel agencies. Online booking tools offer compelling reasons for travel managers to work intensely to drive further adoption and discourage the use of online travel agencies:

  • Increased policy compliance: With the latest online booking tools, streamlined pre-trip approval processes and rule-based logic help ensure employees book their trips in compliance with policy.
  • Reduced traveler spending: In turn, compliant bookings will more fully utilize negotiated rates and follow cost-saving measures that are built into a company’s policy.
  • Duty of care: Consolidated booking practices make it easier to locate employees, enable communication during a crisis and provide assistance in instances of travel disruption.
  • Spend visibility: Travel managers can gain much deeper insight into how travelers are spending money, and ultimately develop strategies to save even more. Additionally, the more travel that can be verified through valid data, the better a company’s negotiated supplier rates will be.
Reaping what you sow: Encouraging adoption

With the increasing consumerization of such tools, adoption doesn’t have to translate to decreased traveler satisfaction. In fact, the latest online booking technology, like that provided by American Express Global Business Travel, can offer travelers the flexible, simple and—eventually—familiar booking experience they seek.

To help ensure that this is the case, it’s important to build a robust education and support system. Travel managers serve as the liaison between the travel management company providing the technology and the employees who are using it. Work with your travel management partner to thoroughly educate your travelers, complete with workshops or in-person training sessions as well as newsletters to keep the booking tool top of mind.

When adding new tools or features, be sure to test them before handing over the reins to your travelers. With this simple extra step, you can identify potential problem areas before your employees find themselves frustrated with an unfamiliar or cumbersome new process.

By educating travelers early on and communicating with them regularly, travel managers can drive adoption and ultimately reap the results that they want for their program, without sowing dissatisfaction among travelers.