The corporate travel world enjoys shiny new objects and storylines woven with possibilities just like any other industry. In an era of constant innovation, these conversations can spur different ideas and creative approaches to business challenges.
The recent talk of an alternative corporate booking model fits neatly into the profile. The consumerization of business travel shopping and booking is no news flash. Midway through the last decade, GetThere leveraged the look-and-feel of our sister company Travelocity in revitalizing our site design. This year, we reinvented GetThere with a design modeled after popular travel and social networking sites – and tailor-made for iPads and other tablets. While alternative booking is somewhat related to the business-leisure convergence, it also allows for scenarios that go against the core mission of a managed travel program.
Proponents of this booking model say that it will help corporations support what travelers are already doing – booking outside the managed program – including from their mobile devices. They say that savvy CPOs understand that the consumerization of business services is a decade-old trend, and they don't want to get in the way of the best consumer experience. They continue to challenge suppliers – and this certainly includes GetThere – to deliver technology for their travelers that allows for an ever greater amount of autonomy, but autonomy based on trust that the travelers will do the right thing and don't need comparison shopping/rules to bog them down.
However, the results of a managed travel program driven by visual guilt in a corporate portal such as GetThere speak for themselves. Furthermore, booking outside the managed channel raises concerns around the audit implications of a high-spend area with a lightly (or un-)managed process vs. a highly managed one; this is a real issue that people are not talking about much. What does "lowest fare policy" mean in a world where lowest fare is never captured and certainly never considered by a traveler going directly to an airline or hotel's specific website to book?
Most importantly, there is documented evidence that alternative booking / supplier-site-only shopping drives higher purchase prices. A Fortune 100 company that uses GetThere recently audited 350 airline PNRs and found that booking those itineraries supplier-direct vs. GetThere would have cost them nearly $120,000 more! This is a very large lost savings opportunity when comparing their corporate program using GetThere+TMC+GDS to bookings made directly on the three largest U.S. carrier sites. Add in the extra time an employee is likely to spend comparison shopping and booking outside a corporate travel site, and the value proposition of alternative booking gets increasingly weak.
At GetThere, we know that the complex and ever-changing world of air/rail/hotel/car supplier distribution is always going to present challenges as employees seek options for their next trip. We have technology in place for both you and your TMC to account for such scenarios – and it's our fundamental duty to create the best possible user experience while keeping your program's policies and goals core to the shopping and booking process. Ultimately, a well-run managed travel program, with defined and supported channels, delivers proven service, savings and satisfaction. We're proud to play our part in delivering that year-after-year performance for your program every day.