Guest contributor – Advito: Merchandising and technology optimisation: Your ticket to big savings

    From Advito Senior Director and Practice Area Leader, Traveller Engagement Michael Silvey

    With a multi-million dollar spend on business travel, any savings will make a big difference to the bottom line. And we have proved that the way to achieve big savings is to use merchandising and technology optimisation to create a more effective business travel programme.

    Understanding traveller behaviour

    These days, business travellers have a lot of different ways to get travel information, and they use a variety of channels, too. They can find information online via travel websites and social media or get it via a whole range of mobile apps.

    Sites like Expedia and Booking.com are often their first port of call when thinking about any trip, and that includes business travel. Our data shows that 78% of all business travellers will comparison shop on third party websites before going onto the corporate programme.

    Based on our internal analysis, we find that corporate sites may have similar or better options but nine out of 10 times, those sites are not configured to provide options to travellers that are viewed as positive. Additionally, those corporate sites are usually not assessed by viewing the digital display or by understanding the traveller experience and programme goals. The merchandising and technology service provided by Advito includes the ability to target and best optimise your online booking tool. This creates a better booking environment that supports the company goals and the traveller experience.

    How comparison shopping hurts your travel programme

    That behaviour limits the success of your internal travel programme, and here’s why. Travelers who search for information externally will already have ideas about the price of the trip and may be emotionally invested in a particular itinerary or type of accommodation.

    If the options available through your programme don’t match up, they’ll be disappointed or dissatisfied. That can snowball, making them less likely to want to use your programme in future.

    Even if they do make a booking, they may not select the travel options you’d like them to choose, because of the information they’ve already seen externally. That’s bad news, because your supplier deals rely on you delivering a certain volume of sales. If you can’t, your supplier discounts won’t be as good.

    There’s one more thing. Sites like Expedia and Booking.com are great at highlighting their preferred options. They also work seamlessly no matter whether customers are on the web or on a mobile device. Business travellers expect that same experience internally – and many corporate travel programmes don’t deliver.

    Let’s be clear: business travellers don’t purposely set out to mess up your hard-won supplier discounts. What usually happens is they don’t get the information they need to make good decisions that fit in with your travel policy. That’s where the merchandising and technology optimisation service comes in.

    How merchandising and technology optimisation helps

    Our merchandising and technology optimisation service aims to give your internal customers – business travellers – the information they need. That information is delivered the way they’re used to getting it: online and via mobile and personalised to meet their needs.

    The service can:

    • display a variety of available travel products to stimulate travellers’ interest and make them want to buy
    • highlight the choice with the most value for them and the company
    • Reinforce that choice and educate travellers with mobile and digital messaging
    • Review, assess and optimise the online booking tool to create a positive traveller experience

    All this is backed by robust analytics that helps us adjust messaging automatically as travellers shop. In other words, we fix how you communicate to your business travellers through travel technology such as an online booking tool or mobile app.

    This has proven benefits including:

    • More awareness of available options by travellers
    • Travelers who are happier with the booking experience
    • Drive bookings to your preferred suppliers or away from non-preferred suppliers
    • Create leverage by managing the traveller’s choice so you can more effectively negotiate with suppliers from a position of strength by demonstrating your ability to influence traveller choices

    Using merchandising and technology optimisation for better compliance

    In other words, Advito’s merchandising and technology optimisation service gets the right information to the right travellers at the right time. Just like those external booking sites, it’s personal, and it’s available via mobile and digital technologies. We’ve proved over and over that this helps business travellers make decisions that fit in with your travel policies.

    Here’s an example of how this would work.

    Say one of your employees is about to book a trip. They’ve done some external research and now they’re using your internal travel tool. With our services, you’ll be able to make sure they:

    • Know when an option they’ve selected is one of your preferred options (and when it isn’t)
    • Understand when a particular option breaches your travel policy
    • Are aware of the amenities and savings available with the preferred options

    We’ve found that this approach results in big savings for companies by:

    • Providing information at the time when people are searching
    • Making sure those preferred options are actively highlighted and brought to the top of the list, and those that are not are demoted in the content display
    • Using marketing and behaviour economic tactics to deliver information the travellers need through messaging capabilities during the booking process

    Learn more about Advito’s merchandising and technology optimisation service.