Large companies with employees who take frequent business trips know that it’s impossible to manage regular bookings of that magnitude manually. It requires technology such as a Software as a Service (SaaS) travel platform for managing every step of the process - from approvals to reporting on trip trends. Using this tool enables travellers and travel managers alike to get better visibility into the itinerary, streamline processes, and create a better experience overall for everyone involved.
However, for anyone not experienced with using this type of travel platform (or has had negative experiences in the past), fear not. Here’s what you should know to familiarise yourself with this tool and, and why it beats going back to paper forms for managing trips:
What is a SaaS Travel Platform?
Software as a Service (Saas) is a way of delivering applications over the Internet, like Google Apps or Salesforce. Google lets anyone manage email, calendars, and documents while Salesforce lets business users manage contacts, proposals, and reports, for example. For the travel industry, this type of platform might let you manage approvals, bookings, and expenses, as shown here. Another example of a system within this vertical is Hotels for Hope, which makes it easier to handle all aspects of booking hotel rooms for large events, while giving back $2 from every hotel night stay to children-related charities worldwide, at no cost to clients.
To put it simply, using this type of technology for everything from hotel bookings to reporting on expensing trends, makes life a lot easier. There’s no paper forms to fill out, and all of that back-and-forth that goes along with it, like when getting approvals. Ease-of-use isn’t the only positive aspect of SaaS. It’s less expensive as well. There’s enormous upfront costs or setup and licensing costs. Instead, most of these tools are paid by monthly subscription where you can unsubscribe if not satisfied with the service.
This technology is also a lot easier to upgrade as well. There’s no need to think about whether or not it’ll fit into your hardware environment. This flexible architecture makes it much more scalable that systems that require servers, load balancing, bandwidth or other similar features.
No technology is perfect, so like other systems, there’s always a learning curve and glitches to endure. The good news is, however, that because cloud-based, technicians don't need to come on site, which could take hours; and there’s a lot less downtime. As for understanding how to use the tool, luckily there are systems that are built with user-friendliness and simplicity in mind.
Other concerns can also include security and compliance risks. According to a previous CapGemini study, fear of security breaches had been a significant factor holding back cloud adoption. However, there are ways to mitigate that by having the right policies and protection in places, such as better integration between third-party apps, two-factor authentication, and greater endpoint security.
All in all, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to leveraging a SaaS travel platform for managing business trips - especially if they occur regularly. The alternative is continuing with the same archaic practices - like manually filling out paper forms - and who wants to do that? Not us.
Written by Bryan Carroll @Locomote