If your organization is preparing to adopt an online travel booking tool to help coordinate your business travel, a corporate online booking tools comparison is a logical starting point. Assessing the features and benefits associated with each solution can help you determine which online travel booking tool will fit best with your organization, but if you're not already familiar with the world of travel, it can still bev difficult to come to the right conclusions.
Even if you've created a shortlist of potential options for your company, how many salespeople will you have to speak to before you can drill down deep enough into each available option to really understand if it's the right choice for you? How will you know what features to look for that will help streamline your travel process and add the most value for your organization?
To answer these questions and more, we sat down with Kirstie McLatchie, Deem's Director of Product Management in charge of the airline, hotel and rail booking functionalities of Deem's corporate online travel booking application. With two decades of software development and ten years in travel, we knew Kirstie would be able to offer some insight into the corporate online booking tools comparison process and how organizations can choose an option that suits their needs. Here's everything we learned from this exclusive interview.
5 Things to Consider when Comparing Corporate Online Booking Tools
Inventory - Can my Employees Book with their Preferred Vendors?
It might come as a surprise that many organizations overlook the importance of inventory when choosing a corporate online booking tool. Nevertheless, as Kirstie told us, inventory is one of the most important factors in ensuring employee satisfaction and compliance with corporate online booking tools.
Q: What exactly are we talking about when we say inventory?
Kirstie: When we think about inventory in the context of a corporate booking tool, it's really all about consumer choice, or in this case traveler choice. Travelers already have preferred vendors for things like air travel and hotels, and we know from experience that employees will most likely book with their preferred vendor. If your corporate booking tool does not show options from a traveler's preferred vendor, they won't use the tool and then you're missing out on all the benefits and cost savings that the tool helps provide.
Q: Does Deem do anything special to compete with other tools in terms of inventory?
Kirstie: Absolutely. We're using Google's ITA search engine to deliver more results for airfare, while some of our competitors are simply packaging Expedia results into an application. We also launched an initiative this year to achieve feature parity across our GDS integrations - Deem currently pulls travel inventory from Sabre, Apollo, Worldspan, Galileo and Amadeus. That translates into a lot of traveler choice and better usage and compliance rates for Deem Work Fource. Deem has been in the travel space for a while, so we've got partnerships with Uber, Lyft, travel agencies, our parent company Enterprise, and plenty of other vendors. These relationships and integrations take a lot of time to build, and they're keeping us well ahead of the competition in terms of the inventory and selection that Deem can offer.
Ease-of-Use - Will My Employees Save Time Booking with this Tool?
Effective user interface and user experience design are important factors to consider when adopting an online booking tool.
Q: Why is UI/UX design an important factor in corporate online booking tools comparison?
Kirstie: We service travelers with different levels of technological knowledge and sophistication. For someone with little technical knowledge, we need to make the booking process simple and intuitive - it has to be easy enough for them to use. For our more tech-savvy users, we still need to offer an experience that is more streamlined than our competitors to drive adoption.
Q: How is Deem delivering on that experience?
Kirstie: When a user interface is designed very well, the user never even thinks about it. That's the experience that Deem is targeting for our customers. We want to make it easy for travelers to quickly navigate our application, find the booking option they want and make the reservation at the touch of a button. To do that, we're building improvements to our results filtering system that will make it easier for travelers to quickly find available bookings that comply with corporate travel policy. We believe that travelers already know what they want to book, so our goal is to minimize the time it takes for them to find the inventory they want and reserve it. We're adding more personalization to our tool and giving more power to the traveler.
Growth Potential - Can the Solution Scale Effectively as my Organization Grows in Size and Budget?
There are online travel booking tools available for corporations of every size and budget. Kirstie tells us why it's important to choose a right-sized solution with the ability to scale in the future.
Q: How do some of the most expensive online booking tools differ from the more affordable options?
Kirstie: Corporate travel tools for small and medium-sized businesses are typically low on customization and low on customer service. The customer is basically left to figure out the tool on their own. In contrast, some of the more costly tools can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement over a three to six month period. You'll see a lot more involvement from the vendor in those cases, and organizations will usually hire a travel management company (TMC) to help support the application.
Q: What about growing organizations?
Kirstie: For a long time, growing organizations haven't really had a path between entry-level and enterprise-level corporate travel booking tools. Deem is changing that with our Deem Emerging application. Deem Emerging offers many of the same features as our enterprise travel booking tool, Deem Work Fource, but in a lightweight package with streamlined implementation and easier management. We're seeing more TMCs onboarding their corporate customers to Deem Emerging, then transitioning them to Deem Work Fource as their corporate travel function matures. This allows for the maximum cost savings and ensures that our customers can grow into our platform, rather than grow out of it.
Global Reach - Will My Employees have Diverse Booking Options for Every Situation?
Most corporations start off thinking that inventory and global reach are the same thing, but Kirstie tells us why it's important to distinguish the two and choose a corporate online booking tool with a genuine global reach and presence.
Q: How is Global Reach a distinct factor when compared to inventory?
Kirstie: Great question. Deem always tries to connect the traveler with their preferred vendor and to feature as many vendors as we can on our platform. Our integration with multiple GDS systems is a big part of that - we're making sure that travelers can choose their preferred vendor. Global reach means being able to deliver that experience anywhere in the world - not just in North America where the vendors are familiar and accessible, but around the world where travelers most need our support.
Q: What makes Deem a truly global platform?
Kirstie: Deem is already an industry leader when it comes to GDS integrations, so the next step for us was to develop more partnerships with suppliers around the world and make sure we're connecting our travelers with a rich network of transportation options on every continent - and all at the best price point available. We're currently expanding into Europe and developing relationships with European air and rail carriers. These partnerships will improve inventory availability, selection and pricing for our customers that travel in Europe.
Oversight - How Does the Tool Enable Oversight and Approvals in Alignment with our Corporate Travel Policy?
Application oversight and corporate travel policy compliance are major areas of concern for organizations adopting a corporate online booking tool. Kirstie tells us how Deem is leading the way in corporate travel compliance.
Q: What's the connection between corporate online booking tools and corporate travel policy compliance?
Kirstie: Companies that do business travel know they need to control costs, so they write a corporate travel policy that sets limits on travel spending. Online booking tools like ours can automate compliance with that policy such that travelers are not able to make non-compliant bookings through the application. So we're helping our customers enforce and monitor compliance with their own travel policies and in turn drive down their travel costs.
Q: Is there anything special about Deem in that regard?
Kirstie: Absolutely. There are two things I can mention.
First is that we effectively integrate bookings and approvals by offering airfare, hotels and ground fare on the same platform. Travelers can book complete itineraries through our application, while our competitors have their users bouncing between different platforms to complete their travel arrangements. Our seamless integration of travel services into one platform means that a travel manager and TMC has full visibility of the entire itinerary and can quickly verify policy compliance.
Second is that we offer customized approval flows, so you can essentially manage your approval process however you choose. You can allow executives to book travel with no approval, managers to book travel with executive approval, and you can establish multi-step approval processes for lower-level employees. Other tools do not offer that kind of flexibility.
When conducting an online corporate booking tool comparison, it's important to understand the key factors that will ensure you get the maximum value from your chosen solution. With Deem, travelers get access to a booking platform with an extensive inventory, impressive global reach and intuitive easy-to-use features for every level of technological know-how. Our corporate customers benefit from excellent oversight of approvals and policy compliance, along with a solution that's ready to grow with your organization.