Companies want simple travel management solutions in order to be able to focus on their core tasks. Torsten Kriedt, senior vice president, Mid-market Solutions EMEA, has developed new service packages that enable EMEA clients to implement professional travel management quick and easily. Find out more in his Q&A.
Why did you create the service packages?
In short, our customers asked us to. We’ve heard, “Travel management is not our core business, but in order to manage our business travel program efficiently, we need competent personnel, we need the appropriate tools, we need to train employees and so on. That ties up resources. So, dear experts at BCD Travel, please find an intelligent solution for this.”
And this intelligent solution is the new service packages? Please explain.
So far, it’s been like this: We’ve asked our customers what they need, what technology they want to use, what tools they want to work with, and more. On that basis, we built their travel management system from scratch. Although our customers had positive experiences with this, there was a decisive disadvantage: The individual set-up of the travel program takes a lot of time. Also, it requires the willingness and competence of the customer to set up and control the new processes. With the service packages, we provide them with simple but smart preconfigured solutions.
What do these solutions look like?
From our experience, most of our customers build their business travel programs very similarly. So we take the work off their hands and define what is essential for professional travel management today:
- Every company needs an intuitive online solution that works on the move. We have invested millions of euros in the development of our app and platform TripSource®. In this respect, we offer a product that has won several awards and, in my opinion, is ingenious.
- Even in the digital age, we still need well-qualified business travel agents who can help with complex trips or provide competent support if something goes wrong, e.g., when a flight is cancelled or delayed.
- In addition, a modern travel management solution should not be cost prohibitive. Instead of charging a separate fee for each service, we say: Let’s rather charge a fixed monthly fee per user. That saves effort for the customer, the traveler and also for us.
The core of the service packages seems to be TripSource. What does the platform do? Do employees simply book themselves?
Yes, that’s right. Many employees nowadays want to book and manage their business trips themselves as and when they get to it – as long as it has a great user interface and they find what they need. In TripSource, travelers can find content from a wide variety of providers at a lower price than if they were to search for it on the internet. They don’t have to spend a long time looking for the best offers before booking because they immediately see discounted flight, hotel and car rental rates and that are in line with your policy. This includes millions of hotel rates, including BCD Travel Direct negotiated rates, chain and independent hotels, convention and boutique hotels, rates from Booking.com, HRS, Expedia and more.
But while the booking tool and access to great prices is important your travelers don’t have to miss out on access to business travel experts if things get complicated. This is the best of both worlds: a modern booking solution coupled with experienced business travel agents.
What are the differences between the different service packages you offer?
We have compiled different packages to meet different needs.
The starter package
In our starter package, the traveler does most bookings mobile or online and uses our telephone service only every now and then. In this case, it is in English. This package is tailored to companies that need a very good business travel solution – with very good prices.
The main package
The main package lets customers receive the service in their local market language. It allows them to set their travel policy and access company rates. It gives access to spend reports to manage and optimize spend. Most importantly nowadays, you can also see which employees are in a location where the security situation has changed and check whether they are doing well.
Does the new simplicity speed up implementation?
Yes, definitely. With our TripSource platform, we have a simple solution that can still be configured individually. This speeds up the implementation phase enormously, because everything is controlled through a central access point.
How long does the implementation take?
You could say that it has shrunk to about a quarter of the time. That is, of course, enormous. But I am still not satisfied. I want it to be solved in a few hours instead of a few days. We will improve even more.
Have you developed the service packages especially for small- and medium-size companies?
Yes and no. It’s more about how much time and energy a customer wants to devote to travel management. Yes, it’s mainly small and medium-size companies that want to have the simplest possible professional solution. But there are also several large companies that are willing to question their own complexity and are interested in a simpler solution – especially for the benefit of their travelers. At the same time, there are also numerous larger companies that want to travel in a much leaner way. and want everything to be implemented quickly and professionally from one source.
When will the new service packages be ready for the market?
We have already successfully implemented the service packages for existing and new customers in Belgium and the Netherlands and migrated existing solutions. In 2020 we’re launching our service packages across Europe.
What comes next? How will travel management develop in the coming years?
In addition to the service packages, we have recently launched the innovative Connect platform, exclusive to BCD clients. They can access tools, training material and industry information. They can also exchange ideas with others in the business travel community.
Another area which will unfortunately become more important again due to the political situation, are topics such as visa support and the consideration of immigration guidelines. You will have to be prepared for this.
Climate change and the possibilities of CO2 reduction are hot topics at the moment. Is this also an issue for travel management?
Yes, of course. We have been able to provide the CO2 footprint of business travel for a long time already. We have clients who offset the climate impact of their trips. We have already helped numerous companies integrate virtual meetings into their travel management systems, thus saving money and time and avoiding negative effects on the climate.