Online booking tools have evolved to the point where they are highly intuitive solutions that are easy to understand and come with user-friendly interfaces. However, these kinds of software have gone a step further in the last ten years.
You can now find travel booking software being able to integrate directly with a business. This becomes a huge boon for travel managers, as they now have a comprehensive solution to address an age-old issue i.e., travel booking.
A recent survey revealed that 39% of companies still used online travel sites while 12% use travel agencies/agents.
Online booking tools are an emerging trend among businesses. Choosing to opt for an online booking tool for your business might be scary. In this article, we will go over all the features and options you should look out for in a handy guide. Let's get started.
What are the different types of online booking tools?
Online booking tools are web-based software which allows users to book flights, hotels, and car rentals. Several airlines, hotels, and car rental services have their own websites. These are the direct suppliers which a business can contact for their travel booking needs. Broadly speaking, here are the types:
- Online merchants purchase various accommodations and services and then resell them to users. Expedia is one such online merchant.
- Online travel agencies present their inventory of available options to users based on their preferences. This is very similar to how it works in a traditional agency.
- Search aggregators are smart search engines that take user input and search 1000s of websites for offers and deals based on the requirement. They work more like suggestion services.
- Corporate booking tools are specially designed to work in business environments. They come with features that help businesses with the booking process. They also help travel managers with automating travel policies and expense reporting.
- Online scheduling software designed to help small businesses to schedule on-site or virtual appointments & meetings, manage staff and services, accept payments, send reminders, etc. Trafft is one of the most flexible and intuitive tool for this.
Benefits of using an online booking tool
- Greater variety: Constantly chasing travel agents and offline aggregators cause a lot of issues to businesses. These offline solutions often do not have a broad enough inventory that may suit your business needs. Online booking tools enhance the booking experience by giving a much larger number of travel options to managers and users.
- Always available: Corporate travel management (CBT) needs a centralized solution. CBTs are online and available, making it extremely easy for travelers to make bookings and accommodations at any time, unlike offline equivalents.
- Centralized solution: All traveling employees will see an organizational improvement when using a CBT. When all travel bookings happen in just one place, it will significantly improve the efficiency and speed of the corporate booking process. This massively improves the user experience for travelers.
- Fully integrated: A CBT is a part of your business, and not an outlier. Travelers prefer this as they have access to features like travel programs, traveler profiles, travel data, and more. This travel process also saves time and consolidates all travel activities within one single platform.
Choosing a corporate online booking tool
Before we look at what features you should expect from a corporate booking tool, you must assess the current situation of your business's travel booking and management process. This is very important as your business must align appropriately with the solution you select.
Steps to go about choosing a corporate online booking tool
- Identify issues with the current process: Run a thorough check to figure out what is not working with your ongoing travel management process. It’s challenging to begin the search without highlighting the issues you currently face. Some common issues include:
- Difficulty in enforcing policies
- Backtracking between agents, travelers, and managers
- No insight into spending patterns
- Low traveler satisfaction
- No expense tracking
- Search for the right solution: Use websites like G2, Capterra, and TrustPilot for an array of suitable options. These websites contain comparative details and user reviews, which can be useful for first time users.
- Request a demo or trial: Shortlist a few options and ask for demos. Demos or trials help you see the product in action. It's also the best time to clear any doubts or questions you may have.
- Look at the price and implementation: The software you like might be too expensive for you. Or the software may be difficult to incorporate into your business. Whatever the issue, it is vital to take enough time to validate and finalize your options before you go forward.
Common features to expect from a corporate online booking tool
- User-friendly software: The last thing you want is your travelers getting bewildered by how to use the software. This would defeat the purpose of implementing an online booking tool in the first place. The software should be easy to use without too much training.
- Automated booking updates: The tool you pick should provide real-time, automatic updates on booking information, booking form generation, price rates, invoices, and more. This helps ease the workload for all the stakeholders.
- Data management: The functionality to collect and analyze data such as daily, weekly, and monthly booking volumes is an important feature your tool must have. Additionally, they must also come with reporting tools, and a centralized repository for customer information and other pertinent data points. This helps for seamless access, review and approvals.
- Better payment processes: The booking software should be able to accept and process deposits or payments in a fast, secure and efficient manner. This helps build employee morale and productivity.
- Inventory management: Rental, accommodation, trips, and other such details should be sorted and adjusted in the inventory. It should also be easy to update at any time. This helps for all stakeholders to be on the same plane about discussions.
- Mobile device compatibility: Travelers, managers, and agents should all be able to access real-time booking information remotely. This helps eliminate backtracking between the concerned personnel.
- Calendar and scheduling: The tool should have website synchronization and office apps integrations. It should also connect with your payment systems. The calendar keeps teams updated about booking commitments, schedules, and changes.
- Customer and vendor support: Make sure they are responsive and have a feedback mechanism. Live-online help, should also ideally be available in case there is an emergency. This helps as all queries can be addressed quickly.
- Integration with expense tools: This feature is not present in some booking tools, but its presence makes the process of expense management convenient.This feature helps make the travel management and booking process faster and simpler for everyone.
Fyle and travel management
Fyle is an advanced automated expense management solution that allows corporate and online booking tools to integrate with it directly. Our customers love to use Fyle. Here are some features they particularly like:
- Pre-trip authorizations help in smooth business travel planning
- Trip reports provide greater insight into all business expenses
- Trip analytics for detailed visibility into spending patterns
- Travel centric system roles for truly automated approvals, booking, and expenses
- Policy enforcement on trips for all expenses during a trip
And there you have it! This comprehensive guide will give you all the information you need to make the best choice for your business. Fyle isn't only about travel expense management, though; it's a complete expense management solution that eliminates the frustration behind expense reporting for all the stakeholders involved.
Enter the new era of expense management with Fyle by scheduling a demo today!