As we put 2014 in our rearview, travel procurement behavior and the ever-changing complexities of the airline industry are already beginning to give shape to an interesting year ahead.
2014 – a year that saw more than 50,000 airline schedule changes per day, worldwide. Industry data indicated that bookings overall were changed or cancelled 2.3 times before the trip is taken, translating into higher than expected cancellation charges and change fees for most companies. Add to this millions of changes in fares, rates, taxes and fees that were seen all through 2014, and you’ll quickly realize why it’s been a challenging year for most companies focused on achieving their travel cost containment goals.
“Perhaps the most important question today is – how will companies fulfill their cost containment objectives in 2015? What factors do they need to be aware of? Smart travel buyers want to know if there are any trends, tips or smart buying practices that will help deliver maximum savings in a travel distribution landscape that changes by the hour,” opens a UNIGLOBE expert.
While fares remain the first factor that all travel buyers take into account, there are a variety of other factors that determine total trip cost and are at the core of what would drive most travel buyers’ decisions in 2015. Here is the inside scoop:
1. Monitoring travel behavior and spend will be a top priority
Travel buyers will expect reports that provide detailed insight into the travel expenses of their travelers, allowing them to better negotiate with travel suppliers, track travelers’ compliance, stay within budget, and forecast for the future. In 2015, the top 3 reporting priorities for CFOs and smart travel buyers will be:
- Monitor Average Ticket Price (ATP) to make better purchase decisions.
- Track & reduce cancellation charges through better planning.
- Identify and support supplier negotiation opportunities based on volume commitments.
In addition, transactional type, line item reporting may give way to illustrated travel spend dashboards. Tools such as the ‘UNIGLOBE Reporter’ are expected to be popular among time-starved top executives in this regard.
2. Smart tools for convenience and cost containment will be essential
Heading into 2015, smart travel buyers will lean more heavily on travel tools that can add further support to a company’s travel policy and cost containment goals. In particular, procurement specialists have identified the following priorities regarding the use of travel tools right from the pre-trip to the post-trip stage:
- Control costs before spending through the use of pre-trip approval tools that allow approvers to efficiently take action from a computer or a smartphone. Today’s best tools come ‘complete’ with online flight schedule “look-up”, booking capability and booking history tracking.
- Avoid increased airfares due to missed ticket deadlines while waiting for approval.
- Load their company’s travel policy to help filter suitable options so that all bookings made will automatically be policy compliant to ensure optimum cost containment.
- Drive time savings for both travel coordinators and travelers for self-researched flight options. Buyers expect their ‘searched options’ to include all available fare sources such as the GDS, internet, fares from other countries as well as any corporate fares.
- Streamline payment processes through a secure and pre-approved purchasing system for booking travel.
Advanced travel technology tools such as UNIGLOBE Complete Access Online will enable organizations to enjoy enhanced trip planning & cost saving features in the year 2015.
3. User friendliness of online tools will be seen as a new priority
Ensuring that a given travel management solution is easy to use will be one of the most top-of-mind considerations for travel coordinators. They want the assurance that using a travel solution will be a simple, hassle-free process that ideally does not have a steep learning curve, especially for their travelers. At UNIGLOBE, we see ‘user friendliness’ as a policy compliance initiative. We recognize that to support travel policy compliance, booking through any of our online tools should be a straightforward process. The easier it is - the more likely employees are to use it. Our flagship online research and booking tool – ‘Complete Access Online’- is built on the core idea of keeping the interface design and interactive ‘labeling’ as simple and intuitive as possible.
4. Travel consulting will get a sharper definition
Several travel buyers will turn to a travel management program that comes equipped with access to a dedicated team of highly qualified travel procurement specialists. But in doing so, it’s not just the personal touch or a “concierge type of feel” that travel buyers are after. They will increasingly turn to these ‘experts’ for 3 things in particular:
- Better planning and smart selection of fare types to better suit the travel behavior of their employees to help minimize change and cancellation fees.
- To ensure that traveler preferences and the company’s policies are carefully profiled to ensure all options are the right fit. From transportation and accommodation logistics to recommendations for a great place to take a business partner for dinner, it’s a total trip management system.
- Round the clock support to ensure that help is available to travelers should plans change or an emergency arise.
“At UNIGLOBE, we believe that planning and smart selection of fare types starts with us . Using tools such as the ‘Advanced Fare Search’ program allows us to very quickly look up fares on both online and specialty channels (that are almost never publicly available) and find our clients the best option to fit their budget and travel , requirements”, says one UNIGLOBE expert.
5. Privacy and data security solutions will be expected
With data being passed through so many different channels and being integrated at several touch-points, the risks of compromised security are becoming increasingly high. Smart travel buyers therefore see a secure system that protects their employees’ and clients’ data from interception or misuse as a key requirement for a travel management solution. “It’s exactly the reason why at UNIGLOBE, we give our clients the choice of maintaining their personal and travel preferences data over a secure link rather than exchanging sensitive information such as passport or visa details over email. This is very easily done with our, ‘Complete Access Online’ tool”, concludes a UNIGLOBE expert.
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