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09
MAR
2020

Travel technology: Choosing the right tools

Travel technology rules the roost in the world of corporate travel. From travel management companies (TMCs) and to GDSs (Global Distribution Systems), to online travel agents (OTAs) and direct bookings with end suppliers, the software ecosystem is vast.

The benefits are vast, too. For employers and their staff, the advantages include the simple ability to make travel bookings within travel policies, capturing and analysing spend and travel patterns, knowing where your travellers should be and how often they’re travelling for wellbeing and risk/crisis mitigation, and more.

For agencies and suppliers, the goal of the booking systems boils down to long-term survival and growth. By driving efficiency and cost reduction, and increasing customer spend, businesses can thrive.

Outsourcing your travel technology? 

Many TMCs and suppliers which manage travel on behalf of businesses and their staff, outsource their software. Often, this is a sensible approach as the cost of scoping and building systems is vast. Maintaining and keeping them ‘ahead of the curve’ – or even in sight of the bend – can be eye-watering.

But, what happens if the outsourced technology isn’t fit for purpose? I don’t mean the technology/tools themselves are inadequate. I mean, they’re not right for the business that has chosen to implement them.

The result of the wrong choice or a compromise too far can be a costly error; dissatisfied customers, disgruntled employees who are unhappy with dealing with the fallout, and more. The more significant than expected cost of change can be enough to put small companies out of business, and big ones in shareholders’ firing line.

The ideal scenario is a perfect match, or as close as possible. Even with a perfect match, I’ve seen repeated avoidable mistakes. Let’s say you’ve worked to find the best technology solution for your business. You’ve gained stakeholder approvals, worked with customers to make sure it meets their needs and those of their travellers/bookers, engrained the forthcoming change in your operational and software development teams.

What next?

Implementation

It’s a word that can fill account managers, marketing and PR, operations, and finance with dread. Is your travel technology implementation project plan robust? Is it fixed, yet flexible? Well, that’s a great start. And ‘start’ is the keyword here! Do you have an integrated design? What about the right skills? Are people collaborating?

Many projects end up having issues that cause delay and delayed implementation means cost – from every angle imaginable and in all its forms.

And don’t forget those failed projects. According to a 2017 report from the Project Management Institute (PMI), 14% of IT projects fail. Of the projects that didn’t fail outright, 31% didn’t meet their goals, 43% exceeded their initial budgets, and 49% were late. The 2018 PMI statistics were no better as 15% of projects were deemed failures.

Have you heard the one about the fantastic, awe-inspiring travel technology, which was communicated and sold to customers, scoped, planned for, and still not implemented three years down the line? Don’t let this be your business.

Mud sticks and your people will lament of your failings at the Business Travel Show for years to come. Customers will fly (excuse the pun). Potential customers will leave your company and head for your competition. This can start as a trickle and end up as a mass exodus – we have all heard of the most severe cases on the news.

How do you get it right?

It’s not just about methodology and procedure. The human element is the critical success factor of any project and business change. Be smart. Set the budget for genuine industry experts who have the expertise to manage the selection stage through to delivery of your transformation project.

The result might mean you do less, but doing less successfully will give you better returns. We all use the saying, “less is more.” Build on this approach and ensure the right people stay on board to see it through. They’ve been in rough seas before and can sail you calmly through to the finish line.

If you need support to select and implement the best travel technology for your business, contact Acceler8 Consultancy today.

John-Potamianos
About the Author
A Change and Programme Management professional with international experience in business transformation, from strategy definition to implementation and covering all dimensions of change: sourcing, contracts, policy, process, IT, infrastructure, behavioural, organisational. John is a Fellow of the Institute of Consulting, a Change Management Practitioner, and MBA qualified who has delivered change and integration of customer facing, commercial, operational and back office capabilities in various organisations.

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