Guides

Implementing and Driving Usage of Online Booking Technology

In This Article

Putting together a comprehensive travel programme is like a jigsaw puzzle, with no two organisations being the same.


For any company currently deciding what pieces will make up their travel programme, one of the main questions in today’s market is whether they require an online booking tool (OBT)?


Whilst there will never be a replacement for the support, advice and expertise a dedicated booking team can offer, for companies with a large travel spend, high volume of transactions, or a growing millennial workforce, incorporating an online booking tool into your travel programme is a sure-fire way to ensure all travellers adopt your Travel Management Company (TMC) regardless of how they choose to book.


This guide contains lots of tips to help you implement and drive usage of your Online Booking Tool technology including:

  • Benefits of using an Online Booking Tool
  • How to get the most out of your Online Booking Tool
  • Driving Adoption / Compliance
  • How to ensure your Online Booking Tool is working for you post implementation.

What are the Benefits of using an Online Booking Tool?

As technology improves, many businesses are finding that using an Online Booking Tool to book business trips can bring many benefits to their business. Having the flexibility to simultaneously search for flights, rail and hotels, all within the control of a company travel policy is a perfect way to drive efficiencies in the business travel booking process.

All of this whilst working in complete harmony with a dedicated travel team provides a complete travel solution. The benefits of using an online booking tool are wide ranging from changing behaviours to controlling costs. Regardless of your objectives your TMC will help you achieve them.


Visual Guilt

Visual guilt is a great way of influencing bookers to buy more cost effectively without the need to have complex travel policy rules, and will in turn, drive actual cost savings at booking level.


Increasing Adoption 

Simplicity is often the key to successful adoption and will also have the most positive impact on your implementation timeframes.


Increasing Compliance 

Mobile App based OBT’s give you and your travellers the option to research and book trips wherever and whenever, and with Approval Process’s also built into the booking tool, it means your designated approvers can give their go-ahead to trips without needing to log into a computer.


Profile Management

Users of an OBT can keep Traveller Profiles updated in real-time adding in travel preferences such as seating requirements or any special dietary requirements.


Hotel Caps 

The introduction of rate caps on both a national and regional basis can prove a very savvy tactic to control hotel spend. The rate caps can be used as a benchmark against previous average rates, or versus projected hotel industry forecasts.


Policy within the Tool

To ensure your travel policy continues to meet your objectives; you need to let it evolve when it needs to. Managing and reducing business travel costs is of course very important but it’s also important to manage and reduce traveller risk as well as keeping an eye on traveller wellbeing. It also needs to include out of policy requests.

Fully Flexible to your requirements

The great thing about today’s online booking tools is that they are super flexible and can be tailored to your specific needs and policy. During your implementation process, your TMC will consult with you on your different booker group’s (e.g. self-book, book for others, super booker) and what can and can’t be booked by each of these. This means you can have multiple travel policies all operating at the same time within the tool, and these can be easily changed at a moment’s notice by speaking with your contact within the TMC.


As well as managing your policy, OBT’s have the ability to include an Approval Process. That could be for all bookings, or bookings that fall out of your policy, the choice is down to you and your own preferences to how this would be set up.


Save and book in your own time.


Sometimes it’s easier to just jump online and book travel yourself for those simple trips where a dedicated booking team isn’t needed, so for those instances, an OBT gives you and your travellers the flexibility to log in, research and book flights at a time convenient to yourselves. Whether it be researching options on the App on your journey to work, or in the evenings in the comfort of your own home, an OBT can work around your schedule and save you time in the process.

Fully Loaded with Content

Gone are the days when OBT’s had limited flight and hotel rates loaded into them.
With the latest booking tools, TMC’s can pull in content from a huge range of avenues. Whether it’s British Airways ‘New Distribution Capability’ (NDC) fares, or bed banks such as Totalstay, Bedsonline and Premier Inn/Travelodge, you can now rest assured you are getting the same prices’ you or your travellers would see online. This gives your travellers peace of mind they are getting the best deals for their trips and will increase your company’s online booking adoption.


Centralise your travel to a single provider

As an Online Booking Tool is able to book all aspects of travel (Flights, Hotels, Car Hire, Trains etc) this means all of the company travel can be booked in the same place, using the same process each time which means adoption of the solution reaches a high level very quickly after implementation. By having all the travel booked in one place, the MI data offered by your TMC will be fully comprehensive making it much easier to analyse spend, policy compliance and booking practices to continuously improve your travel programme.

Mobile App

Perhaps the crowning jewel in this list of benefits, as we start the new decade a Mobile Booking App is the must-have item for any company thinking about moving their travel programme to an OBT. The booking App gives you and your travellers the option to research and book trips wherever and whenever, and with Approval Process’s also built into the booking tool, it means your designated approvers can give their go-ahead to trips without needing to log into a computer. Happy Travel managers, h-app-y travellers!

Bespoke Data Label Capture

Every company has different invoice requirements, and with an OBT being able to capture multiple data labels of your choice (cost codes, PO Numbers, reason codes… to name a few) you can ensure your invoices have all the information needed to make your accounts team’s lives easier

Identifying your Goals

Working with your Travel Management Company to firstly identify, then manage your long-term goals, will not only be key to a successful implementation of your Online Booking Tool, but build a great relationship with your travel management provider.


Be realistic about how much of your business can potentially be booked online and you’re far less likely to set yourself unachievable goals. Set yourself some initial online adoption goals in partnership with your TMC whilst making sure you review them regularly.


Remember to involve key stakeholders within your organisation throughout the whole process but ultimately listen to the advice of your Travel Management Company, they are well versed in implementing these tools to multiple businesses taking you by the hand from start to finish.


Top Tip: Obtain Case Studies from your Chosen TMC to see how they have implemented Online Booking Tools with other organisations.

 

Getting support when using an Online Booking Tool


Making the process of booking business travel an easy one may seem like a hard task but it’s easier than you think!


Blending and Online and Offline Provision gives a travelling organisation’s travelling workforce the resources they need to make booking business travel a breeze. Travel Management Company Solutions including the use of an Online Booking Tool (for straight forward bookings) teamed with a dedicated travel team offering personal support (perfect for complex trips) and 24-hour support, not only empowers employees to book in a way that suits them, but also in line with any company travel policies.

 

Visual Guilt


Using visual guilt within your travel booking systems is a great way of driving down business travel costs. Visual guilt refers to the behavioural science of asking a travel purchaser to reconsider their choices if they have not selected the lowest cost (or option within policy) when booking a trip. This can be delivered via a message, or warning that their selection is noncompliant with a checkbox approval of the higher cost and sometimes with the requirement to explain why the higher price option has been chosen.

Visual guilt is a great way of influencing bookers to buy more cost effectively without the need to have complex travel policy rules, and will in turn, drive actual cost savings at booking level.

 

Profile Management 


Traveller Profiles hold personal information such as full name, address, passport number and any frequent flyer or corporate reward scheme numbers for the individual, as well as travel preferences, seating requirements and any special dietary requirements.


Users of an OBT can always keep these profiles updated. The traveller profile form works the same whether you book your travel services on an online booking tool or offline with a business travel consultant.


Increasing Adoption/Compliance


Perhaps the crowning jewel in this list of benefits, as we start the new decade a Mobile Booking App is the must-have item for any company thinking about moving their travel programme to an OBT. The booking App gives you and your travellers the option to research and book trips wherever and whenever, and with Approval Process’s also built into the booking tool, it means your designated approvers can give their go-ahead to trips without needing to log into a computer.

Happy Travel managers, h-app-y travellers!

 

Hotel Capping


Every company has different invoice requirements, and with an OBT being able to capture multiple data labels of your choice (cost codes, PO Numbers, reason codes… to name a few) you can ensure your invoices have all the information needed to make your accounts team’s lives easier.

Communication and Training

Communicate the Implementation


Communication is a big part of a healthy culture within an organisation. As with any project you need to commit to letting all people within your business know what’s happening and when.


Take responsibility for keeping stakeholders

By engaging the right people at the right time, you’ll be able to manage any initial resistance to implementing a new Online Booking Tool and gain buy-in for the rest of the rollout. Having advocates for a new system already in place prior to full Launch, including key users such as Travel Managers and Travellers themselves, will help support other users and allow for the most seamless transition or a welcomed addition to using an offline team.


Remember: Engage your HR/Marketing/Internal Comms team to get the right message to the right people within your organisation in the most appropriate way for the business.


Training and Support

It’s important your employees feel comfortable using the new Online Booking Tool, ensuring they feel confident on how to make a booking themselves. By offering the right level of training and support you’ll quickly begin to see employee confidence when using the new system really grow.


Clearly understanding how your TMC will manage the support behind the online booking tool is key to success. Travel Management Companies can provide training sessions either in person or via virtual means so really utilise the support available/on offer.

Post Implementation

Account Management 

Your online booking tool has been implemented and your goals in which you set whilst going through the implementation process are being met. Now is the time to share your open and honest feedback of what worked well and what improvements could have been made to the process itself.


As you continue to grow as a business, your Travel Management company needs to adapt to your ever-changing Business Travel mix and overall needs. Therefore, now is the time to be working closely with your Account Manager, keeping momentum, whilst focusing on how you will maintain success within your working relationship. It’s also a great opportunity to review initial and additional goals, identify further opportunities for continuous improvement.