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Business Travel Q3 2019

Online booking tools, while critical, lack crucial employee adoption

iStock / Getty Images Plus / nicoletainescu

Leigh Bochicchio

Executive Director, ACTE Global

As the expectations of the modern business traveller evolve, travel managers and the tools they use may need to adjust accordingly.

Corporate travel policies exist for a reason – typically, to save the company money and help ensure a quality experience for employees. With concerns like cost and duty of care at risk, travel managers have an incentive to improve adoption rates among their employees.

In a recent study conducted in collaboration with American Express Global Business Travel, “Booking Tools and Technologies: One Size Does Not Fit All,” 81% of travel managers surveyed said their business has a mandate in place requiring staff to book travel through company tools and platforms, yet 5% admitted adoption is currently lower than 10%.

Lack of education in the travel industry

According to the study, only 47% of travel managers educate their travellers on a regular basis about their company’s online booking tools (OBTs). In fact, 8% of those surveyed said their organisation had never communicated with employees about OBTs – not even during the onboarding process.

This general lack of education is apparent across the industry and is likely driving the adoption challenges that survey respondents report. With that in mind, one of the key steps travel managers may want to consider is building a dedicated educational programme that helps travellers understand OBTs and, more broadly, corporate travel policies.

Improvement in user experience is needed

While a lack of information and understanding could be part of employee noncompliance with OBT policy, it’s also possible that a lacklustre user experience could be contributing to the problem.

OBTs can prioritise both benefits to the company and the individual employee. More and more, employees expect the same functional, optimised user experience they receive when booking personal travel online.

In addition, employees want the ability to troubleshoot and speak with an experienced travel manager so that they can better understand and use the OBTs – but only 11% of our survey respondents said they use chat and instant messaging channels within their OBTs.

With employee training in OBTs already in need of improvement, a lack of communication options may further complicate the user experience.

Booking tools are not ‘one size fits all’

Beyond supporting the traveller’s experience, OBTs can be optimised for company policy and preferred options, which 90% of those surveyed agreed was important.

In order to optimise the online booking tool process for both employers and employees, travel managers should consider improving the technological education of their employees, as well as assessing their options for making the platform’s user experience the best it can be. After all, booking tools and technologies are not ‘one size fits all.’

By improving the implementation of corporate travel policies, employers are likely to see an improved traveller experience, but also benefits to the company’s bottom line.

When it comes to the adoption of online booking tools, what’s good for the employee is likely great for the organisation.

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