About a year after we introduced the idea of “the perfect trip,” the corporate travel industry is at a very unique inflection point. As technologies, traveler behaviors and business models evolve, we have the need to look forward together, and to decide how we adapt and thrive within our changing environment.
For the first time ever, we have the ability to truly think of ourselves within an ecosystem, and to use that ecosystem as a lever for positive change for all of us.
An Open Platform Creates Value Around the Ecosystem
We have a unique opportunity to respond to change in a proactive way that is based on nurturing an open ecosystem. Why? Because the power of an ecosystem to cooperatively meet challenges is unlimited, while the power of individual players is limited. That’s what the vision of the Perfect Trip is based on – a community of buyers, suppliers, travelers and travel management companies who work together to deliver a better outcome for themselves and for the industry. Our belief is that by opening up the Concur T&E Cloud to the entire ecosystem, we can help enable the industry to innovate.
Embrace Traveler Behavior to Get the Whole Picture
When we look at the future of corporate travel, we are looking at a huge opportunity – but it is a different opportunity than perhaps the one in the past. More than ever, travelers are chasing productivity, and our ability to deliver solutions to travelers that enable them to accomplish their goals will dictate how willing they are to help us accomplish our goals. From our perspective, those solutions need to encompass pre-trip planning and booking, in-trip management, and post-trip expense and activity reporting. One of our primary goals needs to be to gain visibility in to traveler behavior, and so we need to consider how we serve travelers in all of those different phases of their travel experience.
In our mobile world, there is a user-driven engagement model, that is defined by a clear pattern – users seek the app best suited for the purpose at hand. From this perspective, we know that users won’t get everything they need from one app – or from one company. They will look to solve problems through a variety of apps and vendors.
That’s where the Concur T&E Cloud comes in to play. It isn’t good enough to have an app, or even an app strategy – we need to have a mobile traveler productivity strategy. If we can make travelers productive throughout their entire trip experience, they are going to be motivated to share all of their plans with us, and we’ll be in a much better position to create value in new ways. To delivery on this kind of broad-reaching agenda, we’re going to need to count on the contributions of a host of partners, and the Concur T&E Cloud is uniquely positioned.
Driving Value from Travel Data
If we can encourage participation in our travel programs through more compelling services, then we give travel managers the ability to dictate the priorities for their program. Data can be used to adapt policy, to encourage compliance, to impact purchasing behavior, and to fulfill obligations we’ve got to our travel communities like Duty of Care. Analytics and intelligent reporting are the core building blocks of travel management in the future, and they will enable each us to effectively understand and act on what we see happening around us, no matter what our individual or company priorities may be.
The Travel Ecosystem and the TMC
The TMC community has felt significant pressure from the changes in the travel industry, and yet they remain a critical part of the ecosystem. As an industry, we can provide innovations that make it possible for TMCs to encourage greater compliance and participation in corporate travel programs, create new service opportunities, and deliver visibility to more traveler activity than ever before.
Creating a Common Language
The current methods that the industry relies on to service itineraries are challenged on two levels. First, the PNR contains just one slice of data for a trip – not the entire trip. Second, this data is inconsistently defined, so we don’t have the ability to share it with partners or developers who could assist us in building value. Our goal is to use data science to rationalize and normalize this information, take it to the cloud, and marry it to all of the other information from the business travel ecosystem. In so doing, we create a single platform with a superset of easily accessible corporate travel data for TMCs, corporations, and third party developers from around the planet. Over time, we expect the corporate travel system of record will reside in the Concur T&E Cloud.
What’s Next for the Perfect Trip?
Imagination and innovation are two powerful forces. But they are nothing compared to an ecosystem of combined passion, interest and intention to deliver a better experience and a better future for the corporate travel industry. By collectively building this ecosystem together, we have an opportunity to make positive change for all of us – but most of all, for the customers we serve.
Read It's Time: Transforming Managed Travel from BTN.