Travel technology has influenced all facets of business travel, including the Travel Manager’s role, the Traveler’s journey, and the travel management business.
Seasoned Travelers likely remember the days of manual, time-consuming business travel processes before widespread technologies were available. Today, with the right travel technology in place, things are undoubtedly better: trips are easier, more efficient, and more productive.
But there’s serious emphasis placed on finding the right travel technologies for your business. Here’s a look at the business travel landscape before and after the widespread availability of technology, as well as tips for choosing the right tech stack for your organization’s travel needs.
Before Widespread Travel Technology
In the days before travel technology, every step of the business trip process was highly manual and time-consuming in nature. That is, everything took more time than it does today.
Before a trip, Travelers would need to get written approval (sometimes paperwork that needed to be completed). They would then have to fill out more paperwork about their travel dates, destinations, desired airlines and seats, and preferred hotels, plus more details. The travel department, or a third-party agent, would then handle the booking and send some sort of confirmation.
During a trip, Travelers would have to call the office or a travel agent if and when things got disrupted. This would be the easiest way to rebook and reorganize the trip after flights were canceled or delayed. Travelers would also have to stash receipts somewhere safe for filing expenses upon their return.
After a trip, Travelers might staple receipts to expense reports for submission. If there were anything wrong, they would get the same paper report returned to them with handwritten notes on what to change.
Perhaps most importantly for the bottom line, tracking and optimizing travel spend was nearly impossible before widespread access to travel technologies. There was little data or information to analyze, which made taking action to improve travel programs difficult.
After Widespread Travel Technology
Travel technology changed business travel — for the better.
Before a trip, Travelers can use booking platforms (like GetThere.com) to make arrangements that align with travel policies. The platforms automatically select Travelers preferred airlines and hotels, even choosing the preferred seats on the plane. They can also use software tools (like Sherpa) to understand what identification requirements are in place at certain destinations.
During trips, Travelers can use mobile devices to access support during trip disruptions. They can also use virtual cards stored in mobile wallets to make purchases and quickly capture spending data.
After trips, the expense filing process is streamlined by the use of virtual credit cards. If mistakes are made, filers find out immediately rather than getting a paper copy returned days or even weeks later. Platforms (like Concur) can also help with expense filing in addition to their many other features.
Best of all, with the right tech stack in place, Travel Managers have massive amounts of digestible information at their fingertips. They can use this information to take action to improve and optimize their travel programs for increased ROI.
In a world with travel technology, Travelers are able to streamline their trips for productivity and comfort. Travel Managers are able to build and maintain effective programs that deliver ROI. And companies are able to maximize the potential of business travel.
In the future, even more technology (like travel-related NFTs) might further streamline the travel process.
Choosing the Right Travel Technologies for Your Business
The business travel landscape is full of different travel technologies. How do you choose the platforms that are best suited to your unique business?
Start by developing a budget and coming up with a list of must-have features that travel technologies can provide. Start testing different tech options with an eye toward finding the solutions that do what you need them to do — while also fitting within your cost parameters.
Of course, life as a Travel Manager is busy, and it’s difficult to pull away from your day-to-day duties to evaluate multiple travel technologies. That’s where a quality travel management company, or TMC, can help.
At JTB Business Travel, we help companies large and small choose and implement the best travel technologies for their needs. We work with a series of technology partners that we know inside and out — and that we can match you with to maximize your travel ROI.