The average employee spends seven hours a day online, according to Microsoft. Most of that time is during office hours, so why are some of your travellers still making travel bookings offline?
With labour costs rising, corporate travel bookings have increasingly been taken out of the hands of travel consultants and moved online. This has helped many organisations reduce their travel management fees and also improved the travel approval and acquittal process.
We know we’re preaching to the converted, but making bookings online:
- Entrenches approval processes and reduces rogue bookings.
- Slashes booking fees by as much as 80% in some cases.
- Improves compliance and travel policy enforcement.
- Assists with duty of care obligations by tracking travel plans.
- Improves data capture and billing accuracy.
So with so much to gain, how can you encourage your travellers to book online?
Adopt an online booking tool: Choose a tool that is supported by your TMC and your GDS. Without the support of your supply chain partners, you can’t hope to succeed in managing online bookings.
Make sure to read through our essential online booking tool checklist, which you can view by clicking below.
Revise your travel policy and processes: to mandate online booking – or at least to encourage it if your culture is more ‘carrot’ than ‘stick’.
Ensure your preferred suppliers’ inventories are available to your booking tool: There’s no point in getting your travellers to use a tool that can’t access the air content, hotel rooms or hire cars that you have selected.
Make sure your negotiated rates are loaded into the system, together with your preferred classes of travel and room selections.
Communicate, communicate, communicate: Educate your travellers and your travel approvers about the benefits of online booking. Almost everyone who has made the switch to online will tell you that they underestimated the need to ‘sell’ the benefits to stakeholders – and paid the price for that.
Make it easy: Where feasuble, pre-populate bookings and apply your rules so that travellers can book with the least clicks possible. Many trips are repeated and can be templated for future bookings.
Learn from leisure: Most of your travellers will be comfortable with online leisure bookings, so make sure your tool is as intuitive and easy to use as the sites they’re familiar with. If you don’t, they’ll try to use those leisure sites for business travel – and that sort of online booking doesn’t help you at all.
Show them the money: Configure your booking tool to show the real cost of travel – and the savings they’re overlooking by ignoring your preferred deals or fare types. Many organisations have harnessed visual guilt (showing lost savings) to change behaviour – in the right direction.
Make it mobile: While staff spend seven hours a day in front of their monitors, they use their phones and tablets for much longer. Make sure your booking tool is accessible to those devices and easy to use on smaller screens.
The fear factor: You have an obligation to ensure the safety of all travellers, so don’t hesitate to remind them that they’re invisible if they’re not ‘in the system’. Bookings made offline or through consumer channels may not be captured by your system, leaving travellers on their own if they get into trouble. They need to be made aware of this.
There’s no doubt that online booking brings greater efficiency and control, but the benefits only accrue when the system is used. Many Australasian organisations have achieved online booking levels in the 90% range for domestic travel, but we have yet to hear of any who have managed to move all their bookings onto their online tool. So, it makes sense to use your other resources to fill the gaps. Your expense tool can often be used to augment booking data because all travel must be paid for – even if it’s booked outside of your approved channels. Make sure that you can pull that data into your system as you move towards the utopia of 100% online adoption.
To find out how QBT can help move your bookings online, and keep them there, click here.