According to a recent Phocuswire report, US travelers have a strong penchant for booking air direct. The study found that eight out of 10 dollars spent on air tickets online were purchased on an airline website or app in 2020. The quality of the booking experience is a significant factor in this preference.
When selecting an airfare, consumers want to go beyond pricing and availability, business class or economy. They want to customize the experience according to their unique tastes and preferences. Priority boarding and seat selection may be a must for one business traveler, while another may be willing to pay more for the flexibility that a refundable ticket affords.
Because airlines have successfully figured out how to make it convenient for consumers to personalize their flight by offering bundles that match their needs and presenting the mix of options in a visually appealing display, business travelers have come to expect this type of personalized shopping experience for their work trips as well. When they can’t find it through the corporate booking tool, they go directly to the source – the airlines’ websites.
This phenomenon is a problem for organizations with a managed travel program, especially in today’s world where policy plays a vital role in traveler safety. When travelers make bookings directly with a supplier instead of the corporate-approved tool, it can create gaps in duty of care coverage and hinder a company’s ability to send assistance when an emergency arises.
To support employees during this new era of business travel, organizations are working to reinforce the idea that the guidelines are there to protect travelers. Yet, this logic may not resonate with employees who value customization over security.
There’s a better solution
Fortunately, business travelers need not choose between the two – they can have the best of both worlds with a corporate tool that offers a consumer-grade shopping experience, such as our proprietary booking solution, Neo™.
To drive more adoption through a more consumer-like experience, we recently have reworked the way we display airfares in our booking tool to mimic the shopping experience afforded by the airlines. Developers at American Express Global Business Travel took inspiration from popular airline booking tools and created what we call the New Fare Display to provide a similar experience in Neo.
This new aesthetically pleasing display presents airfares in an easy-to-scan, “apples to apples” format with a view of all fare bundles on offer in side-by-side cards, similar to how they are presented on many airline websites. Each card shows the amenities included within that fare, including ticket features.
In one glance, users can shop a complete set of attributes and see all the value a fare includes, such as seat selection, priority check-in and boarding, and eligibility for an upgrade – perks that can make a trip more comfortable and productive. Our display also shows if a fare is a compliant or noncompliant option based on company guidelines, as well as if a ticket is refundable or not.
In one screen, users can compare prices on a like-for-like basis and quickly choose the best fare for their needs. Unlike the airline websites, our display also includes airfares not publicly available, such as GBT Preferred Extras™ and clients’ own corporate negotiated rates. The result is a faster, more satisfying booking experience that can help drive the adoption of Neo, increase in-policy bookings, and save the company money.
“The way travelers shop for airfare has changed as airline retailing has evolved. Our customers expect their online booking experience to be as good in a corporate setting as it is in a consumer setting. So it’s critical that we deliver consumer experiences within managed travel, adding our inventory of private bundles on top of the public ones,” said Bertrand Blais, vice president of product management for Neo. “The importance of doing that well has never been higher. Providing this cutting-edge air booking experience in Neo will improve compliance and ultimately support all the goals of managed travel programs, including savings and duty of care.”
The New Fare Display feature includes airfares from nearly 30 carriers, with more airlines being added as they adopt the necessary technology standards. A similar feature for hotel content is in the works.
Want to really understand the appeal of the new display? Here’s where you can check it out.