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For Business, Corporate Travel & Meeting Buyers & Arrangers

Guest column: let’s get personal

Digital advances mean personalisation offers opportunities to buyers, their travellers and their TMCs – embrace the changes

THE TRAVEL LANDSCAPE HAS BECOME much more complex. Today’s millennial business traveller is digitallysavvy and constantly connected. They’re becoming increasingly demanding, not only seeking more choice, personalisation and flexibility than ever before, but also the ability to self-serve and manage their own bookings. Millennials, mobile, digital and personalisation are all serious challenges that the corporate travel industry needs to embrace. With expectations starting to surpass corporate travel policies and technology, the majority of today’s business travellers like TMCs to offer mobile apps that pro-actively push hyper-personalised, profile-driven content that reflects prior trips to facilitate predictive booking. Mobiles have fast become one of the main channels through which travel is researched, consumed, managed and experienced, but that’s only part of the story. Travellers now require a bespoke digital experience across the multiple touch points and devices that they engage with.

DIGITAL AGE This full digital experience can help travel procurers to know their customer, keep them engaged and provide a competitive advantage based on the knowledge they have collected about their travellers. For them, it isn’t just about finding the right content, but also the right tools to match expectations while keeping travel policies up to date – covering demand, personalisation or taking the mixing of business and leisure travel into account. While the flight booking process has evolved beyond a basic ticket – to include ancillary services and

involve many more touch points – the traditional GDS concept has also changed. Choosing the right technology partner that combines open platforms with connectivity, can help provide access to unrivalled content and functionality to deliver corporate channels with a full and rich retailing experience. This combination of content and connectivity will empower corporations and TMCs to offer essential, end-to-end travel solutions tailored to business requirements – such as pre- booking air transfers to provide a digital travel concierge service to business travellers. These additional touch points can also offer an immense wealth of untapped market data not only to provide a better understanding of a journey, but also to create opportunities for the TMC to add value. For the corporate traveller, the way this data is analysed and used has the power to make every element of the business trip ultra-personalised, efficient and as comfortable as possible.

INTELLIGENT SOLUTIONS In order for the business travel sector to succeed in providing a more personalised travel experience, it needs to address these new challenges and demonstrate innovation.

Combining the personal touch of an agent with smart multimodal search tools, moves the customer experience beyond just offering rate and availability, to offering the broadest possible choice in consumer-ready travel content, and a seamless booking experience. By utilising business intelligence solutions to process and analyse all this data, travel procurers will have the ability to intelligently predict behaviour, understand the flights and extras they are most likely to book, and have a single view of traveller data to be able to offer personalisation to all their travellers.

With these ever-evolving travel management needs, the corporate travel buyer needs to make sure their TMC can not only offer reliable, cost-effective and fully compliant global travel solutions, they need to offer technology solutions in the ways that today’s travellers want to access it, online and on the move. TMCs that offer greater personalisation and flexibility will reap the rewards. They will offer a broader choice of airlines – low-cost and national carriers – as well as rooms from larger chains and independent boutique hotels. They will also make it easier to amend bookings on the go and make payments safely and securely. Personalisation can help bridge the gap between generic experiences and those where the corporate traveller feels truly engaged and supported. The immediacy and personal nature of a digital experience will not only help travellers navigate time-consuming tasks, but also create a highly personalised, contextual digital travel experience. Corporations that understand their travellers’ needs while keeping them within policy, will be able to open up new opportunities for the business to move forward. And TMCs that understand their corporate travellers’ needs will be able to deliver a differentiated and personalised shopping experience.

Scott Hyden is global VP of the enterprise customer group at Travelport. He has been with Travelport for six years, first as sales VP for the US and Canada, before taking on the managing director role for the Americas  in 2013.

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