GetThere Bid to Boost European Adoption Levels

GetThere
has formed a European ‘adoption enhancement’ team to help customers in the region migrate as many travel bookings as possible onto the system, as quickly as possible.  The team of five is led by director of account management and strategic partnerships Brannon Winn and is based in both Paris and London.The team will work with new and existing customers to help them prepare their organisations for the introduction of a self-booking tool, recommend adoption strategies, help launch the system internally and to advise on post-implementation adoption tactics.

GetThere has similar dedicated adoption staff in North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific. They draw from an extensive library of case-studies, benchmarking data and best-practice examples.  A recent survey conducted by the system indicated that 70 percent of its European customers believe the new team will enhance its usefulness.

GetThere’s business model is based on transaction fees - something Winn acknowledges up front.  But he says the formation of the adoption enhancement team is more than enlightened self-interest.

“The greater the level of adoption in an organisation, the greater its success in terms of efficiencies and savings,” he said.  “These arise not only from savings on ticket prices and travel management fees, but also from compliance, which the system can enforce.  As compliance with corporate travel policy rises, so too does the corporation’s negotiating leverage with travel providers like hotels and airlines.”

Winn criticised corporate self-booking tool business models that incorporate flat sales fees. “Where’s the incentive for the provider to ensure that the corporation gets the maximum return on its investment?  Where’s the incentive to ensure that the system does what it claims it will do?  And where’s the incentive to ensure it contains the products that business travellers want to book - whether that be air, rail or hotel?”

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Winn disputes the view that mandating is essential in order to achieve good adoption figures.  Much depends on the internal culture of an organisation, he says.  If staff are used to the concept of working online, and ordering goods and services via the Internet, then often a lower degree of mandating is necessary.  He acknowledges, however, that the European environment is more complex than other regions, and that the solution for one market is not necessarily the best approach for another.

“One of the keys to the successful adoption of an SBT in a pan-European organisation is to have a flexible adoption strategy that bends to the demands of the local culture,” he said.

GetThere’s annual survey of its US customers showed that 41 percent of respondents reported using the system in offices elsewhere around the world.  For these companies, adoption in their European offices averaged 55 percent, rapidly approaching the same level as North American sites.  One year ago that adoption figure for Europe was 25 percent, and three years ago it was 15 percent.

This is the second specialist team that GetThere has formed in Europe.  In July it announced the formation of a group to expand the system’s continental European rail booking capabilities.
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