Road Warriors need to be productive to benefit the organizations sponsoring their travel, but productivity and the impact travel policies have, can be hard to measure. Organizations find it easier to focus on cost, which is much more tangible. In the bargain productivity and the associated ROI takes a hit.
Traditionally travellers have been dependent on travel experts to ensure their comfort and the best utilization of their time during travel. This varies by traveller since every traveller has different preferences. Over the last decade big data, internet and mobile technologies have replaced the human travel expert with algorithmic responses to traveller queries and increasingly machine learning. The traveller always knew his or her preferences better than any travel professional. But they did not know their options for a given destination. Today having access to these technologies in the form of search engines, aggregators, apps etc. has empowered the traveller to optimize his or her own trip. Tomorrow machine learning will optimize travel by individual preferences better than the individual can.
The challenge for corporate travel has been the contradiction between traveller friction and cost control. Organizations are trying to leverage technology to meet multiple objectives at the same time. Technology can help in reducing costs, eliminating mundane paperwork, improve the ROI on travel, facilitate virtual meetings and much more. All of this is happening at the same time. Even as airlines now sell tickets through GDS systems they sell add-ons through their websites. Travelers today often want to stay an extra day to explore the places they travel to in an individual capacity once the business trip is done. Multiple models prove that catering to traveller comfort and saving traveller time on business trips leads to significant gains in ROI for the company. However harnessing data in this endeavour even as travel technology and traveller expectations keep evolving is a huge challenge. Another major challenge is the limitations enforced by legacy tools and processes. Manual steps in travel workflows preclude business travellers from actively planning and executing their own itineraries without either administrative support or a wastage of time on administrative chores.
Curio's biggest strength is integration of all travel and expense data into a single platform. Nothing is left out. This then enables our machine learning to do understand traveller preferences in a way that data in silos simply does not permit. Our straight through automation allows travellers to set and manage their own itineraries without any wastage of time on mundane administrative tasks even as policies are automatically enforced.
Does this mean Travel Managers and Advisors no longer have a role? Absolutely not. Travel managers have invaluable experience. For the first time they have an unparalleled opportunity to leverage that experience the most and be appreciated for it. We will cover this evolution in our next post.