Welcome to the second episode of Explore The Future of Corporate Travel, a video series that dives into the main challenges business travel consultants are facing today and how TMC technology can address them.
While there is little doubt about the ongoing recovery of corporate travel, the industry has become more dynamic and complex than ever. To stay relevant and grow, Travel Management Companies (TMCs) need to think differently, embrace change, and innovate with new solutions and strategies. Sabre’s Robbie Thomas, Senior Director of Product Strategy, and Sarah Sheppard, Senior Director of Product Management, explore the future of corporate travel with Andrew Clarke, Commercial Director of the Business Travel Association.
In this episode, the group discusses automation and its role in increasing productivity, reducing costs and freeing time for travel consultants to focus on more valuable activities.
Watch the video below to hear their conversation or read on for the highlights.
Andrew Clarke: How do you develop solutions to reach the productivity that TMCs are looking for – especially today given their labor shortages?
Sarah Sheppard: It’s an area that we hear and talk to our customers frequently about. They are losing potential revenue opportunities because of productivity challenges. Some travel consultants we’ve met are spending as much as 70% of their workday performing what are manual, repeatable, non-revenue generating tasks. When you consider the operational impact these workflow challenges are having, it’s absolutely no surprise that automation has become a real focus area to increase productivity and reduce costs.
Our Automated Refunds and Automated Exchanges solutions help our customers to automate what are very complex servicing areas. With the system doing all the calculation related to collections and refunds, we are happy to help remove the need for manual intervention by an agent. Furthermore, we are working hard to extend airlines participation to these solutions and to enable automated servicing when actions have been taken directly by the airline. We have seen a great increase in that activity obviously over the past couple of years.
We also have some additional products in the workflow management area. Our Automation Hub solution automates repeatable functions – such as PNR booking, status checks or schedule changes – irrespective of where the booking was originally made. We also have TicketExpress, which we launched globally last year. TicketExpress helps our customers save up to five minutes of handling time per transaction by allowing for complete touchless pricing and ticketing processing. If you think about what that can mean to a TMC bottom line, this has some huge benefits from a cost saving perspective.
For our customers who are developing their own technology, we have structured fare rules and exchange shopping as our best-in-class APIs. These APIs allow our customers to develop their own custom solutions and enable self-service, driving costs down and allowing for a modern customer experience.
Andrew Clarke: One of the big conversations in the industry is that the increase in automation and point and click concepts results in deskilling the agent. What are your thoughts on this, and what do you hear from TMCs?
Sarah Sheppard: When we think about automation, we’re not thinking about this as deskilling travel consultants. On the contrary, our thought process starts with looking at where we can take the burden out of manual and administrative tasks, so that travel consultants can focus and use their skills on revenue generating activities. As I said, those statistics are incredible – 70% of an agent’s workday is spent on managing repeatable functions like looking at queues, reviewing PNR, checking for schedule changes. These are functions that can be taken into automation through robotics to drive efficiency and save time for revenue generating activities.
Andrew Clarke: Do you feel like your solutions suit everybody across the globe, given the many local specificities regarding workflow?
Sarah Sheppard: Yes, our automation solutions can help across the different geographies and customers – absolutely! We’re a global company, serving the needs of our global customers. We’re tackling the efficiency challenges with automation by developing solutions that do not just meet one customer’s needs in one market, but that meet them all.
Some customers use our point-of-sale solutions that include best-in-class automation technology, and others have built their own point-of-sale solutions and will use our Automation APIs to power them. What we’re building out is an automation toolkit within our portfolio. Depending on your needs as a customer, you can pick and choose the right solutions to help you tackle your challenges.
Many thanks to the Business Travel Association for this exciting conversation.
If your TMC is looking to grow in these areas, contact us today so we can discuss how our solutions can best serve you. Learn how Sabre is creating new paths to profitability in corporate travel here.