Digitizing Business Travel? It’s possible to miss the mark!

January 25, 2023

Traveling for Business Without Internet

I remember the not-so-tech-savvy days of my career. Booking a cab to commute to an important meeting and making it there on time was a luxury not many could afford. Sometimes, even after endless loops of phone calls to cab agencies, it all failed. It must be a sight, then, to watch a sharply dressed, desperate executive frantically waving arms and hailing a taxi on the streets. 

This was what business travel looked like for most of us. Before the magic of one-tap cab booking on an app, we were no less than road warriors. Traveling on the cheapest available transport and making it back with a successful meeting. In those days, efficiency in business travel was defined by how much one saved. 

Today the word efficiency consists of a 360° solution for everything. A solution that doesn’t compromise company objectives, administrative ease, and employee delight while traveling for business.  

Tech-Savvy Employees Demand New-age Solutions

In the business travel & expense industry, people looked for the most easily, commonly known partners on the internet when processes called for an upgrade. They began booking their travel and hotel stays online, on retail platforms. However, as the overall travel industry grew stronger, corporate travel & expense carved a different segmentation for itself. 

It is well known that employees, in the current times, prefer to interact with set systems in place instead of other people. For a pretty straightforward reason— automated systems are not error-prone— or as error-prone as humans. To match the pace at which companies operate today, employees want quick, fix-and-forget solutions that can get an output in record time. This includes everything from how employees log in to their systems to how they travel for business. 

What is Important in a Business Travel & Expense System?

As a business traveler, I now understand the logic behind modernizing business travel in companies. But the devil is in the details— how you think of modernizing business travel can be a little different from what is crucial to your business outcome. So, let’s take a step back and prioritize what is important in order to truly digitize business travel:

  1. Compliance and Policy Control

The no. 1 factor why any company will want to modernize its current travel program is to combat out-of-policy travel bookings by employees. To truly benefit from digitization, a company must develop detailed travel policy guidelines. This includes travel budget, types of accommodation, contingency plans, etc. Then let the system develop an automated workflow that can nip any out-of-policy bookings at the source.

  1. End-to-end integration with multiple platforms

A powerful automated system’s hallmark is combining various processes to streamline workflows. As more automated systems are adopted to streamline one function in the business, a powerful automated system for T&E will combine all the other related platforms. It is as effective as running things on autopilot.

  1. Simplified work with user-friendliness

The real magic of automation lies in its simplicity. Many times companies struggle to implement or upgrade their process simply because of the challenges of change management. Given that everyone in a company wants to pace up their business travel efficiently, a heavy-duty system can pull in only so many users to do the job. So it becomes an important criterion that a user should not require a Master’s degree to make their lives easier.

Every Traveler Needs a Companion

With the above priorities for companies, it becomes a no-brainer for managers to select the best to streamline business travel. However, for a hands-on function like travel, companies often overlook one of the key areas in which travelers need maximum efficiency, i.e., support. When on the road, a customer support executive will be required by most, and the traveler’s company will be responsible for it. Every company must consider the duty of care for employees, especially when traveling.

Ensuring best-in-class, 24/7 support, clicks the final lock in place when deciding which platform to choose. As a business traveler, I can’t imagine the highs and lows of traveling without an expert to navigate difficult situations in the current times. Nine out of ten times, any employee traveling for work will think ahead in these situations rather than focus on the present if they know they have to battle tricky situations without expert support.

The Beginning of Tech Evolution

So, after endless evaluations, you’ll know the capabilities of a truly automated system when you modernize your travel programs with digitization. It will be clear that booking a flight from mainstream websites is vastly different from the world of corporate travel. For this reason, AI in automation is quickly becoming a manager’s best friend. By cutting 90% of manual, time-consuming processes and adopting the power of predictive analytics, managers are elevating their roles to more strategic ones to maximize their business outcomes. As we step into 2023 with tech evolving at the speed of light, I know that AI in automation will solve even more complex problems than today. The fact that it is an all-around win-win for all functions in a business— is just the beginning.

Author : Insiya Kaba