The story of travel is a story of technological innovation. Cars, interstates, expressways, ocean liners, and air travel all fundamentally changed what was possible, both for travel providers and passengers. But in the digital age, a different type of travel technology has had every bit as profound an effect on travelers, the industry, and the business world in general. It's enabled cheaper flights, better-organized itineraries, easier payment, and improved visibility for business travelers and their companies.
What is Travel Technology
Travel technology is the set of digital tools used in planning, approving, executing, and accounting for travel. It includes online booking tools that enable you to book flights, hotels and other travel arrangements, Global Distribution Systems (GDS) that connect agents with travel providers, and itinerary creation and management tools. Travel technology also encompasses tools businesses use to regulate employee travel, control travel costs, minimize travel-related risks, and especially ensure employee safety abroad.
Types of Travel Technology
The travel tech stack includes a wide range of tools that work together to create a seamless travel experience. Travel technology can be:
Consumer-facing or business facing
Consumer-facing technology includes online booking tools, itinerary and trip planning sites, and price comparison apps to help consumers find the best deal. Business-facing apps include GDS tools, trip-approval apps, cost tracking, traveler safety, and accounting tools.
Manual or automated
When a customer selects a trip or a business creates a travel rule, there are applications that work behind the scenes to address the customer's preference or enforce the rule. For example, if you book a trip and request a window seat, a mid-office automation tool will continuously query the GDS to locate any window seats available. If there aren't, it will keep looking until a window seat becomes available. It can also search for lower fares, automate upgrades, rebooking and any other demand the traveler or travel agent might have for the trip.
Front, mid or back-office
Front-office applications are the ones users access directly. Mid-office tools provide automation and connection between different layers of the travel stack (like querying for window seats.) Mid-office tech also includes virtual cards like GraspPAY that enable users to charge travel expenses, which can be specified according to business rules ahead of time, prevent fraud, facilitate transparency, and alleviate the need for a reimbursement process.
Back-office technology includes accounting and finance data reporting systems that enable businesses to track expenses, as well as user management, security and other tools used to govern the travel program.
How Does Travel Technology Empower Business?
Even if travel has nothing to do with your top line, there's a good chance travel technology can help your bottom line. When employees travel for conferences, meetings or other events, those trips pose several questions for businesses, such as:
- What trips are needed for business purposes?
- How much should you budget for travel?
- What airlines/hotels/car rentals/etc. should employees use?
- What contracts are in place for our company?
- What are necessary business expenses on a trip?
- How can you pay for necessary expenses without risking unauthorized charges or fraud?
Travel also poses some risks for employers. Corporate cards can be stolen. Workers can get sick or injured. Service providers can fail to deliver what was promised or fall through altogether.
And even once you've made rules and established procedures, there's the massive challenge of tracking travel data. Reservations and receipts from airlines, rental cars, lodgings, and other service providers live on different systems, as do other types of travel data, such as business travel rules and travel approval software.
Without a way to bring all that data together, you face poor visibility, lack of compliance, elevated risk, and a lot of unnecessary travel spend. You need a single system that can properly govern your travel program and ensure your workers' safety and the financial well-being of your company.
That's where Grasp Technologies comes in. We provide the travel technology solutions your business needs to unite reservation systems, itineraries, travel approval, and all the other pieces of your travel program into an efficient whole. Whether you work with (or for) a TMC, need a travel tech consultant or are looking for a provider to engineer and run an in-house travel solution, we can help.
Schedule a demo today to see how we can help you build a safer, more cost-effective travel program.