By Coralie Fornara, senior manager, marketing We are facing unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has required business travel management companies to adapt at an extraordinary pace to help our customers navigate the current environment. Teams across Egencia have mobilised to deliver new technology innovations, reporting and business travel services to help travel managers keep their travellers safe, have a clear view of their organisation’s business travel programme and ensure that travellers are able to book and receive up-to-date information. Owning our travel technology helps us build and deliver these innovations quickly. Here are just a few examples of what we’re doing:
- Traveller Tracker — We’ve extended search capabilities to allow global searches by country, city or a custom region drawn on a map. We’ve also added the ability to look back 30 days to assess travel in COVID-19 hotspots. Another new feature is the ability to display information about traveller bookings on one or several airlines — including code share flights — so you can quickly evaluate impacts to travellers as a result of airlines ceasing operations and/or cancelling flights. Corporate travel managers can feel confident that they have a clear, instantaneous view of their travellers’ bookings.
- Hotel search optimisation — We’ve extended search capabilities to help bookers only view rates with flexible cancellation policies that they can easily change if needed.
- Hotel flexible cancellation policy — We’ve also moved quickly to enable online self-servicepenalty-free cancellation for originally “non-refundable” rates. As part of the Expedia Group family, we’ve also been working closely with our lodging partners to offer more refundable rates to give your travellers more flexibility. Travellers can easily cancel from either a web browser or the Egencia app.
- Hotel closures— With ongoing changes across states and countries, some required by local governments, we have made it easy for travellers to avoid booking hotels that we know are closed. When booking, travellers will see “NO RATES AVAILABLE” and these hotels will be sorted below those that are open with available rooms.
- Air cancellations and hotel policy reporting— In response to the evolving status of air cancellations and hotel bookings, Analytics Studio has been enhanced with a COVID-19 reporting hub that allows travel managers to extract forward-looking reports that allow them to stay ahead of the changes. The air cancellations report provides detailed information regarding flight transactions that have been cancelled by the airlines and/or GDS. The hotel policy report shows active hotel bookings and any known associated hotel cancellation policy, gross booking values and cancellation windows.
- Online change and cancel— We’ve expanded this after initial customer feedback and now travellers can see all of their itineraries, select which one they want to submit for assistance and get the request submitted in a few short clicks.
- Dedicated Help Centre— To offer corporate travel managers, travel arrangers and travellers a dedicated update on the COVID-19 situation, we have made our Help Centre pages public. These pages have a summary of flexible travel policies for all airlines, hotel and rail, as well as guidance and information on cancellation and rebooking. We update this in real time as more information becomes available, so it’s a resource you’ll want to keep as a shortcut or bookmark.
- Travelalerts — We’ve long had travel alerts for risk management and travel disruptions such as hurricanes, strikes or other critical incidents. Now our teams have gone all out to help our customers and travellers get access to the information they need to make decisions and take action. We’ve accelerated updates, including new features and travel tips that help business travellers take control of their trips, and we publish daily updates for travel managers about changes.
- Virtual events and webinars —We’ve added these events and webinars to help our customers share best practices on managing during the pandemic and risk management to remind our customers what can be done to mitigate risk. Watch our home page and social channels for virtual events happening weekly around the globe.
- Customer service clients — Over the last few weeks, we’ve enacted our business continuity plan which enabled all ofour corporate travel agents to be ready to serve all our customers from home worldwide.
- Online community— For peer-to-peer networking, sharing business travel management best practices, Egencia news and more, we encourage all travel managers to join our Egencia Connect Community. Our community is currently only available in English, but anyone comfortable with English is encouraged to join.
Round-the-clock localisation — As a global company, we are fortunate to have individuals who speak many languages from countries around the globe. With a global customer base, ensuring that information is available in local languages is important. Tapping into our localisation teams across the globe means that we can release updated content as quickly as possible, enabling us to translate and publish extensive content in hours. Never stopping These are just a few of the rapid enhancements we’ve rolled out to help our customers. We’re proud to be able to deliver rapid innovation for business travel management and serve our customers during this challenging time. More: Coronavirus pandemic: Innovating at speed to support business travel, from our CTO, Alex Kaluzny Hotel flex policy: Putting customers first, from our chief operating officer, Mark Hollyhead