Miles Preps Ground Transport Mgmt. App for '22 Release

Three legacy booking tool executives gave an update on their respective innovation pathways at the BTN Group’s recent Tech Talk event in Chicago. With plans for the coming years including improved user experiences, tighter integrations and enhanced content display, here’s a preview of what some of the biggest online booking tool players are promising.

Amadeus Cytric: Enhancing the integration with Microsoft announced earlier this year will be a major area of focus for Amadeus’ Cytric booking and expense platform over the next several years, said Ken Pfaffmann, Amadeus VP of business development for corporations in the Americas.

With abilities currently available that allow users to search, book and share trip information with colleagues in Microsoft’s Teams tool, the long-term goal is to be “fully embedded in Microsoft,” he said. “Why are we forcing people to go to applications that they don’t use every day? Why not just have them book travel and collaborate for travel in the applications they use today?”

Over the next three years, a team of 150 people will be working on that “100 percent architecture built with Microsoft,” and they will be looking to bring in AI elements on top of the integration, according to Pfaffmann.

Besides the Microsoft integration, Amadeus also will look at a “continued investment” for Cytric in sustainability, including budgets and dashboards to provide more clarity in the travel decision-making process, as well as more investment user experience and accessibility. “It’s not something you can do at one point in time and call it quits,” Pfaffmann said. “You have to be investing in it constantly to make the experience intuitive.”

SAP Concur: The dominant industry player is working on a “ground-up rebuild of our entire experience,” head of travel projects and TMC services Brian Hace said.

That includes “new policy engines, new administration and new supplier connections,” Hace said. “All of that is being rebuilt, and we have got over 150 people in all parts of the world that are building those connections right now.”

Recently appointed Concur president Charlie Sultan has said clients would see a “vastly improved experience” in about a year’s time, and Hace said that would happen via a series of new launches over the next year. The company already has launched a new rail booking option and expects to have a new car booking experience within the Concur platform launched by the end of this year, Hace said. The new hotel and air booking experiences are slated for release in early 2023, he said.

“What’s actually going to happen is upgrades are going to happen over time for clients by vertical, and they’re going to start seeing that as early as [the fourth quarter],” Hace said.

Sabre GetThere: Improving the user experience will be a primary area of focus for the grandaddy of corporate online booking tools, Sabre VP of global sales and account management Robert Winkler said.

“We need to make sure that usability is a key component of our platform going forward,” he said. “Retailing and making sure suppliers are understanding of how their goods and services are sold through our channel effectively, accurately and quickly, so travelers can make good buying decisions, is critical.”

That includes display work such as the “shelves” metaphor Sabre introduced last year, but Sabre also will work to improving servicing capabilities for the agency workflow, he said. Sabre also will work with Google to do “some interesting things … in the future relative to artificial intelligence, leaning in with their framework,” Winkler said.

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