Travel planning is infamous for being a huge time, patience, and sanity suck for administrative professionals. What seems like a simple there-and-back trip to a traveler is a whirlwind of coordination and research for the admin. “Hey, can you book me a trip to San Francisco next week?” Inevitably leads to, “Hey, can you book me a trip to San Francisco on my preferred airline, in an aisle seat, that gets me in on time to meet with John? And can you try to get me reservations to my favorite restaurant and hotel. Also, I would love to be back in time to pick my kids up from school.”
Administrative professionals are the second largest employment group in the United States and nearly every single admin doubles as a travel agent. Despite this, travel companies have largely ignored their cries for help and have continued to develop for consumers and corporations. We surveyed over 600 admins on their travel planning practices. 60% use a corporate travel agency like Concur, 20% use an online travel agency like Expedia, and 17% book directly through the airlines and hotels. Each of these tools come with their own set of problems, but three pain points stuck out in our survey: finding the best price, creating an itinerary, and sorting through available flights and hotels.
Finding the Best Price (34%)
Finding the best price for airlines is probably the most frustrating part of travel planning. Admins are limited not only by price, but also by their traveler’s preferences. Currently, admins are searching for flights on each individual carrier’s website as well as on online travel agencies. One user told us they take screenshots of each individual site then import it into a Word Document so they can easily scroll through options and compare them side-by-side.
Solution: Run your initial search on SkyScanner which will show you prices across all major airlines without opening up 50 different windows (like many other price-aggregators). Use the filters to narrow your results to just those that work for your traveler’s schedule. This helps you get a good idea for the price range of flights. Then, run the same search directly through your traveler’s preferred airline. You can now send your traveler a list of flight options: those that fit their budget and those that fit their preferences.
Creating an Itinerary (34%)
Creating an itinerary was tied for first with finding the best price as the number one travel planning pain point. This pain point came in two parts. First, many travelers only choose to share part of their itinerary with their admins making selecting timing optimized flights very difficult. Second, admins are typically making bookings on a number of different websites which makes keeping track of confirmation numbers tricky.
Solution 1: Create a travel request form that you can send to your traveler with the information that you absolutely need to have. Keep the form as short as possible. If you have planned for this person in the past, no need to ask for their preferences. The main focus should be on the meeting and events that your traveler will be attending while they’re in the destination. Last, include a simple yes or no question asking if they are planning on adding additional meetings. This will help you choose which type of flight to book: round trip vs one-ways, nonrefundable vs refundable.
Solution 2: Create a filter in your inbox that looks for emails with subjects like “Booking Confirmation” or “Upcoming Trip”. This way you don’t have to manually filter through your inbox to look for confirmation numbers. After you book, receipts and confirmation emails will be filtered into another folder for easy future reference.
Communicating with Your Traveler (12%)
Communicating with your traveler is a frustration beyond just getting trip details or itineraries approved. Admins are often faced with the problem of sending out emails and never hearing back. This leads to delayed bookings and trip finalizations, which inevitably leads to increased pricing.
Solution: Download a plug in, like Boomerang, that can help you send automatic follow-up emails or reminders if you don’t get a response by a certain date or time. These automatic reminders mean you no longer need to create calendar items for yourself to follow-up with a traveler.
TRAVO As A Solution
TRAVO is a trip planning and booking tool created specifically for administrative professionals. We have spent the past year working with organizations like Office Dynamics and surveying thousands of users on their pain points to help admins save time, money, and their sanity when planning travel! TRAVO allows admins to create a traveler profile for each of their travelers. Traveler profiles include basic information (like date of birth), preferences, loyalty programs, and payment methods. Admins only need to create this profile once and the information will automatically be applied to all future searches. Any time you run a search for TRAVO, you will have access to our exclusive corporate rates which can be 10-30% off publicly available rates. In addition to this, you will be able to compare pricing across all major brands on one single website. And bookings made through TRAVO are done directly with the airlines and hotels.
TRAVO automatically builds an itinerary for you as you select flights, hotels, and ground transportation. Then, as you add meetings and events for your traveler, we will update your itinerary to include turn-by-turn directions and expected traffic conditions. After your itinerary is finalized, send the trip to your traveler for approval with a click of a button. Your traveler will receive the entire trip and will even be able to see all the available options minimizing the need for back and forth emails. After booking, your itinerary is updated to include your confirmation numbers allowing you to export to your traveler’s calendar and as a Word Document in an instant. Best of all, TRAVO is completely free: no booking fees or subscription fees. Sign up for a free account or reach out to us at [email protected] for more information!
About the Author:
Tae Lee is the CEO and Founder of TRAVO, the trip planner for administrative professionals. Prior to founding TRAVO, Tae served as executive vice president of Operations and Technology at the leading video advertising technology firm, ZEFR