Business Travel done the Netflix Way
“You are a road warrior. You spend a lot of time on the road, away from your family, meeting customers, prospects, and partners as you build the future of your organisation. But somehow, you get a feeling that managing your travel is much harder than what it should be… even personal travel bookings are much easier.”
This is not an uncommon feeling. Experience for a corporate traveller has largely remained the same for the last 2 decades, largely offline and invariably time consuming. In the past few years, organisations have realised that bringing the right automation in the travel management can save a lot of time for the employees (and of course bring down the cost as well). However, companies are very quickly realising that bringing the process online is not as easy as replicating an online travel site – employees still expect a personalised service which they are used to from a travel desk, even when the booking experience moves digital. The topic of conversation in companies today is no longer about cheaper tickets, but how they can get the best of both worlds – the agility of tech platforms and the simplification, personalisation of the travel desk.
Emails – The First Generation of Business Travel Process
In most companies, when an employee wants to travel, she typically sends the request over an email to a travel desk, which was over phone calls and in-person till then. The desk will share a few selected options with employees. This takes some time but these options would be curated by a smart person – e.g. the hotel suggested would be a ‘good’ hotel, close to the location where the employee needs to be, while not breaching any spend limits defined by the company for that employee. The time taken and the back and forth over email was quite exhausting though.
As a business traveler, you and I both know how tedious this process is, and that’s why we often put off travel planning till the last minute. We have always wanted a simpler way, which doesn’t require trading a dozen emails for planning, options, approvals and confirmation.
Second Generation – Arrival of the Online Travel Tools
From the email system, the world moved to the online corporate travel tools which were very similar to an online travel booking sites. These tools show a long list of flights and hotels for a search, which can be filtered in different ways by the traveller to find the right choice for her. A recent study reveals that 85% travellers want digitisation of their booking experience, however among the companies which used these platforms, less than 50% travellers adopted them – travellers still expected the personalisation which a travel desk could do for them.
One of our early insights while building ITILITE was that corporate travellers expect much better experience, and more importantly a DIFM (Do-It-For-Me) solution. They don’t want to spend hours to find the right hotel from a long list by themselves, they would rather someone sends them the select few options like the good old days.
The Next Generation of Business Travel – The Netflix Way
Netflix has thousands of titles, but it does a pretty good job of recommending just those which you are most likely to watch. How about a business travel experience that is built on the same model? A smart corporate travel platform doesn’t take the one size fits all approach. Rather than showing the same long list of options to everyone, it shows a set of few options upfront which the traveller is most likely to book. This takes into account the personal preferences, spend limits allowed by the company and a lot of signals from the behaviour of similar users within the company. In short, it combined the best aspects of online (speed, choice) and offline (curation, personalisation) booking process.
That is the vision we are building for at itilite. So far, we have seen amazing results to the personalised new age travel platform. More than 96% users prefer to book through the platform instead of reaching out to the travel desk directly, because it is just that easy. More than 85% users choose from the top 3 recommendations that we show, an average booking process takes only about 90 secs. And the result of all this is a set of consistently delighted users.
Welcome to the Netflix era of Business Travel!