“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” – Henry Ford
I was reminded of this quote recently by Debra Searle, who in 2002 continued to row across the Atlantic alone, after her then-husband and rowing partner was forced to retire, due to panic attacks, from the Ward Evans Rowing Challenge. 111 days alone at sea and 3,000 miles later, she has lived to tell her tale as a keynote speaker at major events. Debra used Ford’s mantra to surpass her expectations of herself, and those of people around her.
It got me thinking about how this might relate to our industry and the impact it has on the way we do things in business travel. We certainly see a lot of new technological innovation, but how many of us really embrace the change and move with these advancements to transform the way we manage or run our business? Maybe we are slower than is necessary to adapt, adopt and change.
We live in challenging times. As business travel professionals, we need to ensure that the 21st-century business traveller and our own companies succeed in today’s fast-moving environment. This means continually looking for ways to streamline our business, and add efficiency and value, while maximising return-on-investment.
An area where I see opportunity for innovation and change is the move towards ‘super profile’ – a single profile per employee for effective, efficient travel and expense management. Automating expense management can significantly save on costs, but this is only one piece of the jigsaw. By taking this a step further and using a single profile integrated across all systems in the organisation, the potential for cost savings and productivity gains are multiplied. Ultimately, transforming all the multistep processes that occur in a travel transaction into a seamless, fully-automated end-to-end process, means increasing accuracy and transparency of data, and saving time, which in turn creates other efficiencies.
To the business traveller, a single profile enables productivity gains though one log-in and seamless access to all systems, saving both time and administrative errors. It drives efficiency through the automation of the pre-trip authorisation process and ensures that the personal information is automatically updated across all systems,eliminating the hassle associated with multiple system updates.
To the business travel manager and organisation, there are numerous advantages from driving efficiency through to cost savings and increased productivity. For example, a seamless flow of information is both simpler to manage and analyse, and adds to the ability to report on the true cost of travel and internal travel behaviour. By having a greater understanding of travel patterns, travel managers are able to negotiate with suppliers based on accurate data, reduce the number of transactions and benefit from cost savings and a more tailored travel programme.
In addition, a single profile will drive increased travel policy compliance as traveller profiles are pre-populated to ensure consistent and up-to-date information across the whole organisation, and enable the corporate travel manager to better monitor the travel programme.
Linking HR systems with the self-booking tool also helps with a company’s disaster-recovery plans and traveller tracking, ensuring all information about the travellers can be accessed quickly and efficiently to improve the corporation’s execution of security measures and duty-of-care.
As an industry we need the ambition and ability to accelerate change and innovate – the move to a single profile would be a step in the right direction. While in the short term integration may involve an IT investment, in the long term, automating processes results in significant cost savings and control.
The long-term benefits to the corporate, the business travel manager and the individual traveller are too extensive to ignore, and will always far outweigh any short-term upheavals.
So, do you want to do what you’ve always done and get what you always got – or do you want to make real progress?
Traveldoo Technologies director Julian Mills has over 20 years’ experience in the corporate, technology and airline industries. Roles include senior management positions with Travelport and Amadeus. Within Traveldoo’s UK division, his responsibility is for corporate development strategy, both at a local and global level, as well as the promotion of the brand, products and services within the corporate market place. Engaging with global and multinational corporations, the Traveldoo team work across procurement, finance and travel functions.