Like many corporations, Arthur Andersen wanted to introduce online booking to cut travel management costs.
Nine months after implementing CWT Symphonie, a Carlson Wagonlit-developed reservations platform that integrates traditional booking technology with self-booking, Arthur Andersen`s adoption rate for self booking is 20%.
“I`d like it to be north of 50%, and I don`t see any reason why adoption can`t be over 50% in the next one or two years,” said Dan Meier, director of global travel for the Chicago-based consulting company. “We have a fairly sophisticated traveler base, as everyone has a laptop and is connected to the Internet.”
When Symphonie was implemented, Arthur Andersen used its own resources, assigning a team to help with training. The process takes time, as some travelers are slow to change their booking method and get used to a new system.
“You`ll always get some people who say it`s not like Travelocity, but we went into this knowing we`d like Carlson to make additional developments,” Meier said.
Arthur Andersen—one of CWT`s largest customers, spending $120 million annually on travel—was a key partner in driving the development of the technology.
For example, the firm`s employees wanted to view only nonstop flights because Arthur Andersen doesn`t require travelers to make connections, Meier said. So, CWT added that feature. Also, CWT built functionality that enables traveler and agent to view unused e-tickets.
CWT`s Web-based reporting system is now integrated with the Symphonie platform. A new mapping feature also was added at Arthur Andersen`s request, Meier said.
“The traveler can select a hotel based on where the hotel is in relation to our office [in that particular city],” Meier said.
In the works, said Meier, is a repeat-trip feature, making self-booking faster for travelers flying a regular route.
Meier said Arthur Andersen implemented CWT Symphonie instead of a third-party booking engine because CWT uses only one traveler profile, which resides in a master database.
“With Carlson`s technology, there are no synchronization issues,” Meier said.
Most companies that use a third-party booking engine must worry about maintaining two traveler profiles—the one in the self-booking tool and the one in the CRS at the agency.
Some third-party vendors have developed technology that automatically uploads changes in the traveler`s booking-tool profile to the CRS profile, but not vice versa.
Traveler and agent have access to a universal profile on Symphonie, so when an agent completes a telephone booking, the traveler can make changes in the self-booking tool immediately, said Loren Brown, CWT`s chief information officer.
Approximately 50 clients use the Symphonie platform, said Brown.