Although the business travel world is seen as trailing leisure travel in the sophistication of its online booking technology the roles could be reversed when it comes to door to door travel.
KDS a leading provider of what it claims to be the only truly door-to-door booking platform for corporate, believes it is the corporate sector that will embrace the one-stop travel shop.
Its Neo booking platform offers the sort of simple full service system that corporate travel bookers who want the flexibility without resorting to open booking need.
Oliver Quayle, senior vice-president product and partners at KDS, said: “From a leisure point of view open booking is what customers do.
“They go through the buying process on multiple sites. We are moving to a multi-modal world.
“But in corporate travel, taking the leisure route and booking components one by one is almost a step backwards.
“Business travel is a different world to leisure. In leisure you have infinite possibilities of where you can go and a lot of flexibility, in business you are more constrained.
“You have the corporate travel policy and duty of care and you have to bear in mind the shopping experience for the business traveller is not their day job.
“So in the corporate world you either go back to square one and shop separately in different sites and hope all that policy data can be collated for the corporate later.
“Or in business people have been talking about a one stop shop where you can book everything in one portal.
“That’s what we’ve done. We do all the thinking, come up with everything you need for the business trip, package it and present it in the shortest possible time.
“In the leisure world door-to-door tends not to be that important because you tend to be buying a tour.
“In business knowing where you need to be and how to get back again is a far more compelling proposition.
“What we are seeing are corporates are now appreciating they want to keep productivity up for their people and take away the hassles that are not what they are paid to do.”
Quayle said KDS had taken lessons from the consumer world in developing Neo and applying them to a corporate setting.
User experience is key, so the Neo system returns results in an easily to use format, optimised for mobile and tablet use.Travel compliant options come in four broad categories: Recommended, Cheap, Quick and Green.
Public transport and self-drive alternatives to taking taxis or local flights are included, as are walking times and directions, which can save budget or allow flight upgrades.
The Neo system is also integrated with Google Maps and Street View to give a visual dimension to the platform.
KDS conservatively estimates that the systems saves firms one in 20 trips and due to its Service as a Software (SaaS) commercial model makes sophisticated travel management affordable for small to medium sized firms.
Because KDS is independent of the Global Distribution Systems or TMCs it can recommend a broader range of product because it has no vested interest in pushing travellers to certain suppliers.
Neo is also integrated with an expense management system and offers the user a full estimate of the costs of the trip including incremental spend during travel.
Once the trip is booked a traveller’s door-to-door timeline can be shared with work colleagues so managers know exactly where employees are, or should be, at any given time.
“You can empower the individual rather than saying you must do the cheapest most flexible route. You can say this is the corporate recommendation for the trip you are planning.
“And then you can upgrade or downgrade as you need. Because we use artificial intelligence we can apply that to the individual traveller’s preferences.
“What we are doing is allowing corporates to cut unnecessary travel and be efficient with their budgets.
“If people book on a ‘.com’ site they have no visibility of their preferred suppliers or preferential rates.
“This pushes people down the path of least resistance for a trip that has benefit for them.
“Some of these features are going to start inspiring ideas in the leisure world especially if you have to manage tight costs, you want a complete breakdown of all of your costs.
“Everything is going to get more and more complicated. Having that breakdown of all of your costs and exposure for your trip is going to start eeking into the consumer world.
“People today treat themselves as their own brand. They are becoming more like a one-man company. We will see the businessification of the consumer world.”