Navigating new business travel technology projects

Hollie Webb | July 17, 2017

Notes from ITM Technology Bytes workshop – London 10 July


I found it extremely insightful sitting in on the ITM Technology Bytes session yesterday in London, as a technology sales person, but also as a newby to the corporate travel world it’s always great to learn about the needs and challenges of the business’ we work with and how we fit in to the wider ecosystem in which we work. For me it was encouraging to hear a frank discussion from all the speakers with regards to their approach and advice to technology within the corporate travel industry.

Four major components stuck out for me as consistent across the presentations. Things you need to think about no matter what sort of technology you are looking to implement, be that an OBT (online booking tool), an expense management system, a payment system or something bit more exotic like an AI Dinosaur hotel concierge…

These four key components that you really need to consider are:

  • External Ecosystem – a key area that was highlighted throughout the day is the interconnectedness of technology and how to best utilise that. As a fully capable end-to-end OBT we must work alongside a whole partners ecosystem to ensure the best possible experience for the travellers we serve. Without working seamlessly behind the scenes to integrate with payment solutions, ERPs, expense systems, TMCs, GDSs, direct connections, duty of care software (I could go on but you get the idea…) we, nor any other technology could provide the high level of personalisation and configurability needed to truly see the benefits of any technology offering. So, to make sure you are implementing the right tool for the job, ensure that the technology you choose works seamlessly with the wider travel ecosystem, understand your integration requirements as a business and work with your technology provider to configure your system, fine tuning it to your specific requirements.


  • Internal Ecosystem – or key stakeholders. It was clear that when embarking on a new travel initiative or project, engaging stakeholders across the business is key to its success. We all know that Executive sponsorship is vital to pushing through new initiatives, but with corporate travel impacting across business, you need to engage with stakeholders from multiple functional areas in order to get a comprehensive picture of your business needs and understand the drivers for change.  Business travel requirements may well differ from one department to the next. HR, Finance, Procurement, each has the potential to be a blocker in any travel project, so engage early and in depth to ensure all ground is covered. This open dialogue needs to continue throughout the technology review stage, and also through the implementation phase a well, which brings me nicely on to my next point…


  • Test Test Test! – What would seem like an obvious point, but one that could not have been emphasised more. Essentially the advice was, add another 50% to any time you’ve allocated for testing, and when you think it’s ready… test again. This is where your stakeholders across the business continue to be vital to a successful implementation. Testing your top 10 routes 50 times is all well and good, but engage with those less frequent travellers who will bring new eyes, and potentially highlight questions you wouldn’t have even thought of. Testing doesn’t however stop when you go live with your new system. Ensure you build in a regular review and feedback process to enable you to quickly highlight and address any glitches especially in the early days.


  • Future Proof your Technology – It is so easy to get swept up in the latest technology trend, and think you need to be engaged with it immediately. While it is good practice to keep up to date with new technologies and business travel trends, it’s important to keep your focus on what your business actually needs – what challenges do you have that could be addressed with technology, how is your workforce changing and what do they need? That said, ‘future proofing’ your technology is smart. New trends will arise, and others that have been around for years may start to explode, so you need to ensure you choose a technology and a provider that will work and grow with your businesses. Aiding a change process and innovating instead of investing in something that 3 years down the line you’ll have to replace…


On a related note, you may be interested to read more about the interconnectedness of technology and the impact of this on business travel here.