Universities and academic travellers are set to benefit from a new wave of innovation in the business travel sector, says Campus Travel’s parent company Flight Centre Travel Group.
Andrew Flannery, the head of Flight Centre Travel Group’s Australian corporate travel division, said customer offerings were rapidly evolving as travel management companies looked to add greater value to client interactions.
"The days of a travel consultant being solely relied upon to make and manage bookings for corporate or academic travellers are long gone," Mr Flannery said.
"Today, the offering is built around:
- State-of-the-art technology offerings, including time-saving online booking tools like Campus Online and the handy Campus Mobile app
- Cutting-edge reporting and analytics, which ultimately helps customers save money
- Security, particularly traveller tracking; and
- Integrated expense management solutions
"Of course, personal service from an industry travel specialist remains a key part of our offering, but we are also integrating our technology and product to make life simpler for the traveller and his or her organisation. For example, we are about to introduce a multi-vendor, collaborative solution that will simplify the expense reconciliation process."
In other parts of FCTG’s corporate global business we are now proactively using Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools to enhance customer-consultant interactions.
"Products include SAM ;], an AI tool that has been deployed in our USA business, and Claire, which the company has invested in through its Brisbane-based business acceleration and investment unit, Little Argas."
Cathryn Cole, General Manager of Campus Travel Australia, said that universities, like their corporate counterparts, were interested in how technology could automate internal processes and increase cost and productivity efficiencies for their booking staff and travelling employees.
"Due to the large volume of travellers that tertiary academic organisations have it is more cost efficient and productive to have staff book themselves through a TMC (travel management company) provided online booking tool," Miss Cole said.
"While the majority of university travel is long-haul travel, online booking tools are the perfect for a university for staff to book their own point-to-point domestc travel. Likewise a mobile app that allows travellers to view and update their itineraries via their mobile devices is also a must have for universities."
Through its network of specialist corporate travel brands, Campus Travel parent company Flight Centre Travel Group is Australia's largest corporate travel management company.
Alongside Campus Travel, the company's other corporate travel brands include:
- FCM Travel Solutions, which specialises in complex corporate enterprise and multi-national travel management programs
- Small to mid-size enterprise specialist Corporate Traveller
- Stage and Screen – a specialist in the entertainment, sporting, music, and media sectors and
- cievents – a global strategic events management agency
Mr Flannery predicted that the next wave of innovation would see Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate offerings become ‘channel agnostic’.
"We believe we can save customers time and, therefore, money by delivering new ways for travellers to transact," he said.
"They will, of course, still have the benefits of 24/7 access to personal travel consultants and online booking tools, but they will also be able to tap into better mobile tools, apps and other new emerging channels, just as they are able to do when they book their leisure travel.
"And it's not just geared towards large companies. We are proactively working with third party suppliers to develop lower cost offerings for organisations with smaller travel programs.
"We also believe that corporate travellers will become more experiential during their business trips, as we have seen in the leisure travel sector.
"Customers don't necessarily want to spend their work trips in meetings and in hotels - they often want to pack more into the visit.
"As a result, we are now working with companies like Airbnb to deliver new product choices to our diverse customer base."