There’s been a lot of talk in the travel management space around the use of automation and robotics to make travel programs more efficient. Generally, procurement professionals focus on whether prospective TMCs can perform certain tasks. Importantly, how they are performed can be just as vital to know.
Let’s consider two iconic families in television; The Jetsons and The Flintstones. Both are American sitcoms based on the nuclear family, created and first aired within the same decade. So, what sets the two apart?
Well, for starters, the Flintstones were the Stone Age family whose daily tasks consisted of extensive labour-intensive methods and using technology created from pre-industrial resources. The Flintstones were the recognisable forerunners to The Jetsons, who existed in a utopian world powered by robotic devices and fanciful creations. The Jetsons had robots take care of their everyday, mundane tasks while the Flintstones, quite literally, powered through it themselves. Chances are your travel program probably belongs in one of these TV shows, or perhaps it has elements of both!
So which one is your program, and why should you care? Keep reading to find out!
Cashing in Your Credits
In our experience, outstanding tickets in credit can be a major pain for organisations, with some organisations holding as much as 10% of their travel spend in credits. But they can be managed…
As a Flintstone…all credits are stored in your TMCs system. When a traveller books a trip, it needs to be manually selected in the system. If it can’t be found or there’s an issue using it, the credit expires and the money is lost.
As a Jetson… the trip is booked and a robot automatically uses an available credit to pay for it. It can even be set up to use credits for anyone in the same department or even within your organisation as a whole (depending on your specifications). When a credit is about to expire it is automatically sent for a refund, ensuring that at a minimum you get your taxes back.
Want to learn more about these processes?
Changing Your Tickets Online
Imagine it’s the night before your flight and you have to make a change. Most online booking tools allow you to make changes online, but what’s going on in the background? You’d be surprised how much it can affect you…
As a Flintstone… you submit a change request via the Online Booking Tool. This is then sent to a queue where a consultant from your TMC actions the change. And if what you’ve requested isn’t available, they get in contact, reconfirm your change from available options. By that stage you may have missed your flight!
As a Jetson… you login to your online booking tool, check the availability, immediately action the necessary changes and it’s sent for ticketing.
Want to learn more about this process?
Paying the Right Fees
To pay for services of a TMC you generally pay a fee for each activity they perform, and these fees are either applied manually or automatically. It really shouldn’t make much difference, and it doesn’t until a mistake is made…
As a Flintstone… Your consultant will pick up the fee that best matches what they have done for you. All good, until a slip of the finger switches a simple domestic booking fee with a charter booking fee, and then before you know it, you’re overpaying.
As a Jetson… Your TMC’s system monitors the processes that the Consultants are completing and robotically applies the correct fee based on the tasks that have been performed. No manual intervention required!
Quality Control Processes
Regardless of which travel management company you use, they will have some form of Quality Control Process in place. However, chances are that if your TMC is using manual processes for the aforementioned tasks, they will probably use manual processes for their quality control as well.
As a Flintstone... An individual within the TMC manually checks the bookings to ensure they are correct.
As a Jetson... Robotic technology checks that all aspects of the booking are correct, prior to ticketing.
While it’s easy to overlook the benefits of an automatic system because its return on investment can often be quite implicit, the alternative is a manual process that is time-consuming, more prone to mistakes, cost-inefficient and subsequently wasteful, not that we’re biased at all :P
Most the services provided by an automated method seem quite common-sense, so you might not even be aware of the systems and processes that are underlying your travel program.
As a result, we recommend you initiate an open dialogue with your TMC to identify exactly how your bookings are being handled… are you with the Flintstones, using your feet to move your car? Or are you with the Jetsons, zipping through the air in a hovercraft? And whichever of these you are…. Make sure you’re fully comfortable with it!
Contact us to further investigate any of the above differences between manual and automated processes.