Core Technology & Data Reporting

Core Technology & Data Reporting

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Travel management technology providers have continued to see large levels of investment over the past year as they seek to meet an ever-growing scope of travel buyer needs.

The underlying needs for travel technology to solve, of course, remain the same as always: Being able to provide timely, accurate data on a travel program to understand costs, keep travelers within policy guidelines and locate travelers quickly when emergencies arise. Increasingly, travel buyers are tasking their technology providers to track other types of data on their program, such as carbon emissions or the impact on traveler well-being.

The online booking tool remains one of the core technology pieces of a travel program, and booking tool providers have been investing to add content beyond the traditional major providers as well as policy controls. The Covid-19 pandemic has renewed the need for pre-trip approval processes, which providers also are seeking to solve via automation and artificial intelligence.

Even with investment and new entrants on the market, however, getting high compliance with booking tools remains a challenge for many buyers, and the ongoing debate of whether travelers should be able to book through their own preferred channels rages on. Technology providers are looking at new ways to handle off-channel bookings, including technology that lets travelers book through supplier websites with policy controls or technology that monitors employees emails to find travel confirmations that they can bring into the program. Still, many buyers would simply like to see online booking tools that can meet all of their needs, giving travelers no need to go outside the program.

Expense reporting providers continue to innovate as well, with some providers promising the “end of the expense report” via automation and integration with the payment and travel side and automated auditing.

With the Covid-19 virus showing no sign of abating globally as new variants continue to arise, buyers also still are in need of current information on health warnings and travel restrictions around the world to keep travelers informed. Beyond Covid-19, many travel buyers also want to be sure their travelers have up-to-date security information on destinations, including information that might be specific to a traveler’s race, gender and sexual orientation.

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