Short’s Travel, arguably the most innovative TMC in North America, has done it again*.
Book It** allows a corporate traveler to search for airfares on any site, then e-mail the selected flight info to Short’s for booking and en-route servicing. Completely automated. Fast results. Pure genius.
Why pure genius? Because, according to
David LeCompte, Short’s president, some two-thirds of corporate travelers are shopping for their airfares on non-corporate websites anyway. Once they find a good flight, they have to re-enter the details into their corporate tool. Newsflash – not every traveler bothers with that last step.
Then there’s the small problem that consumer OTAs are investing millions of dollars in their flight search capabilities and user interfaces. Tough to compete in that arena, agreed?
In a flash of inspiration, LeCompte saw the solution – let travelers use the sites they love for shopping, and let Short’s use the results to book the flight. Just “share” or e-mail the selected itinerary to “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Easy as can be.
Before my travel manager friends turn purple at the thought of this out-of-policy enablement – relax…Short’s designed Book It specifically for corporate programs. So long as the traveler uses his/her corporate e-mail address and has a corporate profile, Book It will
- Apply the relevant corporate discounts – and show the traveler the amount of savings achieved;
- Present corporate travel policies before booking;
- Track unused tickets; and
- Include the ticketed spend in corporate data reporting.
Book It also plays nice with mobile bookings. Users can shop on their favorite mobile app, and send the results to Book It. Book It works by re-shopping the flight info on Apollo, so it returns any result that is in that GDS.
Short’s charges a self-booking fee for handling the automated booking/ticketing, and provides agent services to travelers needing en-route assistance. Exactly as if the traveler had shopped on the buyer’s self-booking tool.
Book It is in its early days. It works best on simple itineraries, and doesn’t yet handle hotels. It does, however, offer additional similar flights if fares are lower or the journey time is faster than the itin sent in by the traveler.
David LeCompte, Kristi Lamont and the team at Short’s get an A+ for jui jitsuing the tendency of business travelers to shop first – and often only – on leisure OTAs.
I can’t think of a better example of producing a traveler-centric solution for managed travel programs. Nor can I wait to see what Short’s comes up with next.
Meanwhile, the implications of this innovation from Iowa are potentially profound. Look for a post on this soon. Update: Here’s that new post.
* See Short’s 2010 innovation “CouldYou” here
** The official name is “Bookit@shortstravel.com”
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