When you’re on the road, your destination isn’t really a city; it’s an address. And it’s the difference between the two that makes the booking process so inefficient.
To close that gap, Carlson Wagonlit Travel is putting the finishing touches on a new kind of booking tool that simplifies the process, said Joel Wartgow, senior director of CWT Solutions Group for the Americas.
Instead of filling in the names of the cities between which they are traveling, customers will be asked to enter the address of their final destination – and let the computer do the rest.
How it works
If a traveler needs to arrive for a meeting at One Park Avenue in New York City by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, that’s all the information he or she needs to enter.
The system, dubbed “CWT Online powered by KDS,” will deliver one response that includes all the components – how to get to the airport or train, parking options, flight information, a hotel if one is necessary – and then do it all again for the return trip.
CWT Online also will project the total cost of the trip, door to door, including difficult-to-track expenses like taxis and meals, so the traveler and his manager and travel manager can see what the full cost will be.
Simplicity is the lure
The hope is that the simplicity of it – just entering an address and being done with trip-planning – will be a lure for busy travelers, encouraging them to go with what’s offered rather than search their own options.
And of course all the choices can be controlled by the company, set to its preferred hotels, airlines and rental car suppliers.
“That type of intuitive trip guidance is going to pull you into the channel,” Wartgow said.
“It’s a really easy search – where am I sitting today? where am I going? when do I need to be there? – and you get all this information back. You can certainly make changes, but it’s easier to just accept it.”
The holy grail of compliance
Wartgow said most companies with whom CWT Solutions group works already have mature travel management programs, with hotel and airline contracts in place. For them, saving money through negotiating better deals –especially in the current travel environment, which favors suppliers over buyers – is not likely to yield a big return.
“Travel managers are saying the best way to save money in 2014 is to get travelers to be more compliant,” Wartgow said. “The greatest savings are through improved traveler behavior.”
CWT Online, which will be available this summer, will be “competitively priced,” with the exact price depending upon the client’s size and specific requirements. Carlson expects “more than 100 clients around the world” to sign up by the end of 2014.
Another product is coming right on its heels. Carlson already is testing the hottest and most controversial compliance tool of the year, gamification, with two corporate customers, and has two more ready to launch.
But that’s a story for another day. Stay tuned.