The Digitalisation of Travel
5 Smart Solutions for Old Problems
Remember the days before COVID? Even though we like to look at the pre-COVID era as a time of calm and stability, the truth is that even before COVID-19, the global workforce was undergoing a sea change. Many younger-generation employees started entering managerial positions (it might be hard to believe, but the first Millennials turn 40 this year!), transforming company culture, processes and systems.
Comfortable with technology, digitally-savvy Millennials and Gen-Z started introducing smart, tech-driven solutions to enhance and simplify the workplace. They looked for technology to increase work flow, productivity and cost efficiencies.
Enter COVID-19 and the adoption of technology has sped up. As Kate Smaje, Senior Partner at McKinsey explains:
“COVID-19 has launched the greatest behavioural change in our lifetime. We vaulted five years in the adoption of digital in just eight weeks. This great digital migration has forced every company into a massive experiment in how to be more nimble, flexible and fast.”
In the travel industry, COVID-19 has also fuelled innovation. Travellers are now moving along their travel journey seamlessly with online booking tools, contactless check-in and handy digital wallets. In Europe, we had already become used to facial recognition and biometric gates at airports.
It’s only logical that as a travel manager, you are expecting the same levels of innovation as your travellers. Facing incredible uncertainty in air travel, you are looking for innovations such as AI-enhanced OBTs, Blockchain and virtual reality to help you navigate disruption with ease. There are still local nuances in technology for the European market that can hinder consistency. But the development of those tools will be driven by the same macro trends and customer needs.
FCM’s rebrand is a reflection of this positive change and innovation. We heard you. A simpler, more streamlined user experience was needed.
Putting You in Control: Content, Costs and Customer Service
Here are just five ways technology is providing new solutions to old problems:
1. A fast, consistent user experience
Clunky booking tools are a thing of the past. Employees are no longer willing to put up with slow, cumbersome systems. In fact, they demand the same level of user experience (think instant gratification) in the workplace as in their personal lives. Booking a holiday to Spain and managing any changes online has become incredibly easy whether you’re on your phone or a laptop. The same should be the case for business travel. If the tech is slow or clunky, they will simply head elsewhere and avoid using company tools to book their travel.
Importantly, travel bookers want a consistent user experience, even if they’re using a range of OBTs and service providers across their travel programme. The FCM Travel Platform will offer a globally-consistent user experience for digital itineraries, duty of care, reporting and approvals alongside handy plug and play functionality. This means that you can integrate your preferred OBT into the platform, instantly putting a wide range of travel content (matched to your budget and travel policy) at your fingertips. This is particularly significant for those of you running a programme in Europe, where multiple OBTs are often used. In our platform, it will all look the same.
Even better, the FCM Travel Platform will deliver a full omni-channel experience, allowing bookings, approvals, the uploading of health certificates, boarding passes and more across all devices, be it your laptop, tablet or mobile phone. This means you can browse, book, approve trips, view itineraries, receive updates and alerts, reconcile expenses and generate reports whether you’re at Schiphol or Charles de Gaulle.
2.Highly-connected customer service
Not only do travel managers need to know if their travellers are happy with the services and product provided, but they also need a better way to communicate directly with their travellers at any moment. For travellers today, 24/7 support is not just a convenience. The complexity of travelling during a pandemic is a timely example of needing to ‘be there’ and support travellers at all times.
It's the difference between peace of mind and the unnecessary stress (and escalation) of often resolvable situations. Luckily, FCM’s digital assistant Sam just keeps getting better and better. Many of you already know and love Sam. Now available across the FCM platform and app, ever-evolving Sam will soon solve problems proactively, often before you (or your travellers) are even aware of them. This will include rebooking suggestions, itinerary updates and travel alerts.
FCM’s ‘always available’ promise means that your travellers can access automated answers via Sam’s live chat widget for simple questions, or be connected to an empathetic human (your dedicated travel consultant) whenever needed. You can also gather and analyse data and insights from travellers on the road, including their likes and dislikes, queries, traveller friction, traveller preferences and travel behaviour. That means you can design the best itinerary and book the best product to meet their needs.
3. Safer Travel
Of course, beyond information, the health and safety of your team is a top priority in our post-COVID world. With FCM’s new duty of care tools, which are currently in development, you will be able to customise a safety dashboard to your needs, ensuring that vital information, including your travellers’ contact details, current location, onward itinerary and destination alerts are all in one place.
Flights grounded due to a hurricane? Worried about nearby protests and just want to get home? There’s always a travel expert on the end of the phone to help. 24/7, 365 days a year. We’ll always find a way to get your team home. All backed by traveller tracking and proactive alerts and updates that you can view yourself in the FCM Travel Platform.
4. A customised, closed and secure booking platform
Understandably, most travel managers and bookers would like a secure platform which houses all their information. From a traveller’s personal information, to travel policies, budgets and reports – you want it all accessible at the touch of a button.
Real-time reporting has never been easier, and soon Sam will even alert you about unusual things happening in your travel budget. If you’re a customer, ask your Account Manager about the latest updates today.
5. A sustainable ‘reset’
COVID-19 has been described as the ‘great reset’ – as companies re-examine their values, purpose and policies. With fewer flights operating it is clear to see the difference to our environment. Statistics from Eurocontrol show the number of Co2 emissions from flights across Europe in 2020 fell 56.9% in 2020 vs 2019.
Moves are being made in sustainable legislation too. In April 2021, as part of a broader climate bill, plans were set out to replace domestic flights in France with train journeys.
For FCM, environmentally-conscious travel is no longer an option, but a responsibility. We will be happy to work with you on integrating carbon offsetting tools (including a carbon offsetting tracker) into your travel programme, and we’ll engage with your team around greener solutions to help you achieve your company’s environmental and sustainability goals.
The future is fast – and flexible
If TMCs and travel experts are to thrive in this ever-changing, post-COVID landscape, they need to embrace innovation. Not for the sake of innovation itself, but to enhance the customer experience, address common pain points, smooth out traveller friction and empower teams on the road.
For FCM this means a cutting-edge, intuitive platform which delivers a consistent user experience (across all devices) alongside smart recommendations, 24/7 support and unbeatable customer services. Rolling out globally in 2021/2022, it’s a platform that will adapt and grow with our clients into the future. Seamlessly.