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Hotel RFPs: “Checking In” on Your Managed Hotel Program

hotel rfps

It’s that time of year again: the pre-work window for hotel RFPs and the ideal juncture for a complete review of your managed hotel program. Last year we talked about key opportunities to be explored during hotel RFP season. This year we’re adding some tips to the list, based on the following hotel sourcing predictions:

Travel Management 2.0: The Open Booking Debate Continues

business travel costs

It used to be a given: managed business travel along with comprehensive policy translated into greater cost savings and increased ROI.

6 Questions to Ask When Weighing Event Management Services

event management services

Whether you’re on your way to establishing a full-fledged SMMP (strategic meetings management program) or you simply need to execute two or three events next year, it’s important to remember that event services represent a distinct discipline. Your travel management company can help support your conference goals—particularly if the TMC houses a separate meetings management division—but MICE (the acronym for meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) is not the same, well… species of work.

5 Reasons We’re Excited about Concur Fusion 2014

concur fusion 2014

Have you checked out the #CF2014 Twitter feed yet? It looks like business travel tweeps are already talking about Concur Fusion 2014, and that’s hardly surprising. Our bags have been packed since February. 

The New Word in Business and Leisure Travel

Business travel meets leisure travel resized 600

What do you get when you cross a three-day trade show with a three-hour tour?

The FAQs on Corporate Housing for Business Travelers

corporate housing for business travelers

Hospitality spend is a major part of any corporate travel budget—as high as 40 percent for some programs. Corporate housing may help companies looking to improve their sourcing strategy, by addressing the extended-stay category of travelers (in addition to transient and meetings travelers).

Mobile Apps for Events: 4 Questions Meeting Planners Should Ask

mobile apps for events

 Consumers downloaded more than 100 billion mobile apps in 2013, and their expectations continue to grow.  This poses the question:  How can mobile technology improve your next event?

Why Travel Incentive Companies Are Making a Comeback

travel incentive company

What’s the best way to motivate and reward topnotch employees? How can you narrow performance gaps, or better align workers' priorities with overall business goals?

Business Travel Management in APAC: Challenges and Opportunities

business travel managementIf you’re in the market for a new TMC with global capabilities, or you’re looking to consolidate your business travel management services, APAC may be a stalling point. Companies with travel interests in Asia Pacific have to hurdle some tricky requirements, and not all travel management companies are up to the task.

Consider, for example, the state of managed travel in China, which PhoCusWright surveyed just five years ago:
  • Fewer than half of all corporations used a single, contracted TMC for bookings.
  • More than three-quarters used paper forms and manual processes to conduct T&E expense reporting.
  • More than 90% gave employees cash advances to cover travel expenses.
In 2014, business travel management in China is slowly but surely evolving. Other regions in Asia Pacific are seeing faster change, and yet certain challenges persist.

Implementing Online Booking Tools
Online booking tools are an essential part of any modern travel program—not just for the time savings they provide, but for traveler tracking/safety purposes and for fully integrated travel data. In a recent post on one of our GlobalStar partners, we explained how GDS systems interface with OBTs in comparing air fares, hotels, and ground travel prices.

But in the Asia-Pacific region, bookings are complicated by designated local channels—even for tools that can access GDS and non-GDS content. Some Asian airlines, for example, still funnel their best rates into country-specific GDSs. Japan’s railway is on a separate CRS. Chinese carriers can only distribute their content through TravelSky, China’s independent GDS. In India, rates for the same flights and hotel properties and quoted differently to Indian passport-holders versus foreigners.

So companies need a TMC that can interface with APAC’s complex frameworks and overcome the biases of local travelers, who often doubt the rate-shopping abilities of an outside group.

Issuing Corporate Credit Cards
Capturing more travel spending on corporate credit cards is always a positive step for companies and their business travel managers. Unfortunately, many of the world’s developing markets—in particular, China and India—are slow to adopt commercial card products. And strict consumer credit card regulations make it difficult for foreign card issuers to enter the scene.

As reported in a recent BTN article, “China is the most regulated and protectionist market in the region, according to card networks and banks.” While China may be partial to its own banks/card providers, multinational corporations are looking for global solutions.

New security measures may help expedite the process. Card issuers are now developing embedded microchip/EMV cards (U.S. merchants that aren’t ready to accept them by October 2015 will be held liable for any fraudulent charges incurred), improving their behavior analysis tools, and employing SMS verifications or one-time passwords. Card issuers are also upping the ante with consolidated reporting capabilities and easier oversight/customer support features.

Business Travel Management Opportunities in APAC
Even despite these challenges, Asia Pacific offers plenty of opportunities to generate travel cost savings and improve your business travel ROI. In fact, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council/Oxford Economics, Asian economies generate the highest ROI per business travel dollar invested (as compared to all other global regions). In China, sales are significantly more likely to convert with in-person meetings attached, and more deals are dependent on business travel, as compared to deals originating in the U.S., U.K., Germany, or Brazil.

What are your business travel management challenges—in APAC or overall? Tell us what you’re up against so we can continue to deliver timely, relevant blog content.

Hillgate Opens the Door to Better Travel Management Services

travel management services

We’re always excited to share news from our travel management services partners in the GlobalStar network. And this has been a particularly eventful year for Hillgate Travel—a UK-based, independent TMC—with two of their latest innovations earning coverage in BTN’s The Beat.

Earlier this month, Hillgate’s groundbreaking new travel content app made headlines. It’s called ResWay, and according to BTN, “[it’s] the first application to provide reservations agents the full ability to handle aggregated GDS and non-GDS content.” ResWay facilitates bookings by coordinating GDS and open source options with customer profiles, payment systems, and more.  Advanced search features and filtering capabilities are also included.

But let’s take a step back and explain a little about business travel reservations—including how travel management services companies and corporate booking tools typically search for airline/hotel/car rental prices and availability (data known as “travel content”).

Most agencies work from a GDS reservation tool, or global distribution system. The major GDS systems are Sabre, Amadeus, Galileo, and WorldSpan. In the case of hotel bookings, hoteliers’ central reservation systems (CRSs) are synched with the above GDS systems and increasingly with other channels (e.g. OTAs like Orbitz and Expedia). Rate parity doesn’t always exist and inventory information isn’t always updated across all channels.

So what makes Hillgate’s latest content app noteworthy? And how could it improve your corporate travel program?

First, ResWay allows TMC agents (or self-booking employees) to simultaneously search GDS and non-GDS reservation options. The combined approach yields better rates and uncovers more availability—without eating up huge chunks of time for separate online searches.

Second, the app will help managers address today’s noncompliant travelers, many of whom insist they can find better rates on their own. If you read this blog regularly, you know how we feel about online travel booking and the myth of travel 2.0. But with non-GDS content available to ResWay users, there’s no need to debate.

Finally, traveler profiles can be included to support travel planning based on individual preferences (or corporate compliance measures). Specific carriers, providers, schedules, and other must-haves can be attached to customer accounts—another big time-saver and travel management services enhancement.

Hillgate’s travel content application was adapted from Sabre Red Workspace technology. Hillgate designed the concept and the wireframes. Travelfusion, a leading travel content aggregator, built the underlying technology. To find out more or share your thoughts on GDS/non-GDS booking, add a comment below. We always love hearing from you!

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