Mike Remedios (pictured), chief technology officer at Onriva, discusses how legacy technology no longer serves the international business travel market and how we can fix it
Business travel reimagined: How the right application of technology can disrupt a decades-old model
If there is any “silver lining” to the Covid 19 pandemic’s devastating impact on the travel industry, it’s that it has given people the space to rethink how business travel should work for them. While the siloed, rigid legacy technology has “got the job done” in the past, how we live, work and travel has changed and so should our expectations of the technology and platforms we use.
With lives busier than ever and ongoing public-health challenges upending global business activities, particularly those done internationally, it is critical that both travellers and travel managers have access to a more modernised booking ecosystem that is agile, transparent and can flex to global events as they happen. Business travel can change on a dime and how we book and change it needs to be able to pivot with us.
The good news is that the technology to make this happen exists. We just need to apply it in the right way.
Selection: From directing employees to empowering employees
It’s been over 25 years since the first booking was made online. While the Internet has unleashed a world of travel content, business travellers’ choices – selection of booking tools, supplier, or type of travel – remain dictated by their travel programme restrictions. Forcing a traveller to use a certain booking channel is like giving someone a menu and forcing them to order the soup. What choice? Today, we have the technology to create a fully omnichannel global marketplace that offers access to all content and channels under a single interface. It’s only in this truly transparent travel ecosystem that we can create a win-win for both parties: the traveller has more confidence in their choices because they see fares/rates from all possible channels, while travel managers gain full reporting visibility for all purchases to make more informed policy decisions.
Science: Using AI to personalise the search-shop-buy journey
Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) seems to be everywhere, but while it has been integrated into the business travel industry, it hasn’t reached its full potential. Though all travel has become highly personal, for the seasoned international business traveller, personal preferences are paramount. Incorporating AI/ML to the booking process not only removes the time-consuming process of having to sift through the multitude of sources and options, but, over time, it unleashes the power of personalisation for a better traveller experience. And when paired with an omnichannel travel marketplace, AI/ML can interact with the entire ecosystem – direct and indirect supplier channels, business and “bleisure” itineraries, and private and public pricing tiers – to bring a truly customised experience.
Service: Dialing-up duty of care
Duty of care means that a company has a moral and legal obligation to protect its employees and provide safety while they’re working remotely. Historically, these measures have centred on preparing a traveller for the trip, and not providing security and monitoring while they’re away. No matter where you call “home,” I think it’s safe to say many of us feel like we are living in more uncertain times than ever before. Our systems need to integrate technology and services, like tracking and monitoring dashboards and 24/7 support, to help companies stay in touch with and keep their travellers informed and safe in real time.