Extending digital transformation into a business travel programme

Posted: 14 May 2020
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By Gijs Swaans, multinational/global field sales, EMEA

Extending digital transformation into a business travel programme

In this three-part series I’m discussing digital transformation and the considerations for the banking and finance industry. My first post looked at areas that are influencing digital transformation and the future of business travel culture within this industry. Now, we’ll focus on looking forward and adapting to embrace digital transformation in business travel.  

The post-crisis world

The return on investment (ROI) for digital transformation in banking must be assessed against the backdrop of tighter regulations following the 2008 global financial crisis. The breadth and depth of data that must be readily available can be staggering.

Europe’s Global Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), data sovereignty regimes, the rising stakes in cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence bring more complexity than ever before. A travel management company (TMC) must be willing to understand, appreciate, and partner to successfully address a bank’s need for comprehensive, integrated business intelligence and data as bank managers need the regulatory peace of mind that comes with an intimate working relationship. In essence, bank managers need to be able to audit their travel partner with the same frequency as the regulators scrutinise them.

Banking is also incredibly competitive. In addition to traditional banks, new generations of online-only banks — real-time transactional payment apps for smartphones and digital wallets — are all scaling up at a rapid pace. Against that backdrop of a dynamic banking industry, business leaders spend a lot of time recruiting the brightest minds in the war for talent.

That talent competition is even sharper in the current environment. Digital strategy for new products and ideas only have value if they work for clients, drive profits for the bank’s stakeholders, and pass all the regulatory requirements. The people who come up with these ideas and implement them need to know the bank values their contributions.

Our research also shows that business travel programs can be a key component of recruitment and retention[1]. When you meet your employees’ expectations for how they want to work and live, they’re more likely to stay. Digital travel solutions meet these expectations and can help drive program compliance.

The change agents

How does a bank extend its digital transformation into its business travel programme under these constraints? The case of one European bank can be instructive. The right change agents – key roles inside the organisation that partnered with Egencia as its TMC – integrated the business travel programme to kickstart digital transformation. As the bank modernized its use of information technology, a manager who was not directly involved in the travel programme — but traveled a lot in their role — saw that benefits could be gained by digitally transforming the bank’s corporate travel programme. Upper management was intrigued, and the bank began its first step in digital transformation.

With dozens of offices around the world, the travel spend was significant and the need for flexible support models across geographies was crucial. Offline traveler support was just as important as online or mobile app-based assistance.

The bank was using a traditional travel agency for its needs. It needed to gain a better understanding of the advantages a digital TMC could bring that weren’t currently available. They chose three companies as potential partners to help them with their transformation strategy:

  • Their incumbent agency
  • A global network of start-ups and telephone booking agencies with some digital tools
  • Egencia, including our global travel management platform, account management, and support

The contrast exposed the benefits a single global business travel solution could play in the context of a digital transformation initiative. The incumbent did not have the flexibility, tech agility, or the type of big data the bank needed. The start-ups were simply too small to serve all their needs globally on a local level. Egencia was the clear winner.

We brought efficiency, global reach, and the data the bank needed that they didn’t and couldn’t get from their traditional agency. The decision to go with Egencia created an appetite for change in the organisation.

Winning was just the start. In my third and final blog in this series, I’ll share more about the transformation process and the ROI benefits for organizations. Read the full Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report here.

[1] “Travel culture: Your talent recruitment and retention advantage,” Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in association with Egencia, Sept. 24, 2019.

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