I’m reading lots of posts lately about trends in corporate travel. The number of amazing new tech tools is dizzying – OBT’s, bots, apps, etc. The list goes on and on and is getting longer by the day. Almost everything written about travel management recently focuses on technology and it’s not surprising. It’s new, exciting and it’s changing every day.
However, as the saying goes “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. The number one thing your corporate travel program needs now is the same thing it needed twenty years ago before all of these advancements in technology. When you break it all down into its simplest components, there is one thing that ties a successful travel management program together and, without it, the limitations of technology become crystal clear.
All of this new technology has one thing in common – a company and a team of people using it – your travel management company. It is their responsibility to manage these tools and, more importantly, to have the knowledge and experience to determine when these tools are (or are not) providing the best options for your travel program. So the number one, most important thing you need for your travel program that I mentioned previously is trust. You need to be able to trust and rely on the expertise and judgement of the people who manage these tools and resources on your behalf.
Please don’t misunderstand me. The many tools that travel management companies have at their disposal now are amazing and getting better. Here at Global Travel in Singapore, we would find it very difficult to operate without them. However, at this point in the evolution of the travel business, they are useful only up to a certain point. Do I trust an OBT will provide my clients with the lowest logical fares for a simple point to point journey? Yes, without question. If I add another segment or two to that trip, do I still trust it? Not so much.
In a perfect world, where flights are always on time and itineraries are simple, technology is a powerful asset and there are a number of excellent tools available. However, it is not a perfect world, and business travelers are always at the mercy of an assortment of variables beyond their control. Flights get cancelled or delayed. Schedules go haywire and things can, and often do, get complicated. Do I trust that there is an app, bot or OBT that can unravel it all and get everything back on track? No, I do not. The intervention of a trusted travel professional is indispensable at this point. Technology is a capable “assistant” in this event but no more than that.
In this imperfect world, the number one, most important thing is to have a Travel Management company that you trust. You need to be able to trust that they will find (and charge) you the lowest fares in unusual circumstances and that they will do everything they can to keep you safe and well informed when things go wrong. With all of the exciting new developments and tools in the world of travel, not one of them can come close to replacing a trusted and experienced travel professional. At some bright shiny day in the future, technology may become smart enough to actually replace travel professionals but, honestly, that day is still nowhere in sight.