Speaking at Business Travel World magazineå‘s å‘Spotlight 2003å’ conference in London, Jeff Palmer
, president of the online corporate travel systems provider GetThere, a Sabre Company, told corporate travel leaders that commitment from senior managers and clearly communicating cost savings are key to the successful implementation of online self-booking systems for business travel.
Palmer said while success was already being achieved in Europe, it was also helpful for systems to operate with all the main global distribution systems (GDSs), and include a broader range of travel content such as rail and fares from no-frills carriers. He said an organisation could boost staff use of its online self-booking system by changing the company’s travel-ordering processes, helping travellers understand and accept the benefits of the self-booking model, treating them as consumers and possibly mandating use of the system.
Palmer noted it was also important for global corporations to use a system that could support offices with different suppliers, travel management companies, GDS systems, and travel policies.
Challenging the notion that significant adoption rates were not yet achievable in Europe, Palmer said online self-booking systems were already achieving “excellent” results for European companies, with staff in some corporations booking more than half of all their business travel through these systems.
Pointing to a 2002 Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) benchmarking survey of 92 European corporations, Palmer noted that three in every five companies implementing a self-booking system had achieved an adoption rate of more than 20 percent, with half achieving adoption levels greater than 40 percent. He also quoted figures released by two large GetThere customers. One had achieved a 54 percent adoption rate among staff in its British offices, and 42 percent within its offices in the Benelux region. The other had achieved a 92 percent adoption rate in its offices in The Netherlands, 71 percent in Belgium, and 69 percent in the UK.
“These are excellent figures by any measurement and demonstrate that, with the right programme, companies in Europe are already achieving substantial adoption success,” he said.
The widest possible range of content is also important for the future. GetThere will be introducing additional content for the European market this year, and Palmer confirmed that it would include non-air content. He emphasised that this needs to be done in a much more integrated manner than initiatives announced to date.
“It’s not enough simply to dump a traveller at external sites to make a booking. The solution, especially in Europe where travel programmes are noticeably more complex than elsewhere in the world, is to offer travelers new content fully integrated into the corporate self-booking system. ”
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