How to maximise OBT usage?

Armed with a better understanding of the buyer/traveller’s behaviour and the latest technology, the future can be better than the past to maximise OBT usage:

  1. Expand the range of content
  2. Streamline the booking process
  3. Add value to the traveller experience

Classic Managed Travel and its value proposition has been around for > 10 years. Getting employees to book their business travel through a purpose-built portal, means good policy compliance and lower costs. Travellers book the suppliers that they’re supposed to book, and trips are pre-approved before money is spent, which means the business is more efficient and visibility is improved.

One of Classic Managed Travel’s biggest problem remains leakage. Data shows that most employees are quite happy using their OBT to book flights but have a far greater problem ‘towing the line’ when it comes to booking accommodation.

Even with the very best policy and employee incentive programs in play, hotel leakage often hovers around 40% for many organisations. End-users either don’t believe that they could book the hotels they wanted through their OBT or they believed that they could get better prices by booking online on leisure sites like Expedia or Booking.com.

Whether end users could or couldn’t get cheaper prices by booking outside the official channel isn’t so important, as the driver for hotel booking through the OBT is now as much about “duty of care” as it is about saving.

A great solution is to bring the ‘leisure’ content that users are familiar with and want to book into the OBT. By allowing users to book what they want, with brands they are familiar with, leakage is reduced and wastage that is associated with non-refundable, inflexible leisure bookings is eliminated. The same logic applies to low cost airlines which are increasingly blurring the lines between business and leisure and need to be bookable to minimise air leakage.

One of the things holding Managed travel back (less so in the US admittedly) is the idea that travellers, should administrate their own travel. To get the traveller to take on the role of primary booker, requires a fundamental rethink of the booking process and the booking medium. Travellers are, by definition, mobile, so the booking medium should also be mobile. A commitment to put the core T&E functions into the smart device and pocket of every traveller is essential.

All the technology to do this exists today, it’s just a matter of putting it into practice and getting travellers to understand that it’s easier to book and manage travel themselves than relying on a PA, administrator or Travel Agent. Once done, organisations will be able to unlock resources that are currently tied up.

The value part is a little more abstract. A business trip is an experience that starts with a booking of some description, and ends with expense reconciliation. Between are a variety of different steps, activities and interactions that all need to be supported if the traveller is to have a successful and productive trip. Again, mobile must play a key role in delivering this. It’s obviously difficult to place a monetary value on happier, more productive and engaged business travellers, but certainly that is the industry that Traveldoo wants to create and service.

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