The ideal business travel process: VICTOR supports business customer and travel agent
One-stop business travel shopping, all bookings combined in one system and retrievable with all end devices – and everything as a paperless process. VICTOR, the “Virtual Corporate Travel Organizer“ by PASS, – more or less a travel cloud – makes this modern business travel process possible. Giller Reisen Lufthansa City Center has been implementing the system with its first customers.
When Donald Williamson, manager quality assurance at a large-scale fashion company, visits suppliers, his smart phone is his most important companion. The pocket computer knows all bookings of his trip – online, and those done by the agency, called “offline” - from the rail ticket to the airport, which Williamson bought himself, the flight booking that was arranged by the travel agent (offline), up to the hotel reservation made by Williamson’s assistant. All information and data concerning the trip are in an application in Williamson’s phone, and they can also be retrieved by other end devices. Giller Reisen Lufthansa City Center, the fashion company’s travel agent, has access to the complete itinerary and thus is able to assist the manager at any time.
The smart system indicates flight delays and at the same time suggests alternate bookings. With the help of his smart phone’s location information, the software suggests alternate means of transportation – door-to-door, taking optimized routing into account, either time- or price-optimized, depending on Williamson’s request or preference. The textile expert pays for parking fees, taxis, and public transportation with his smart phone. A mobile payment system on the basis of NFC technology makes it possible. These expenses are directly assigned to the business trip. Back from his trip, Donald Williamson no longer needs to struggle with an antiquated paper-based expense report – his travel system has an integrated backoffice module that generates the report with the help of all travel data and known invoices at that time.
Travel Management System integrates the travel booking process
The travel booking process in Donald Williamson’s company is completely integrated thanks to a comprehensive travel management system, and it operates absolutely paperless from the travel authorization to the travel expense report – the workflow is optimized to the maximum and it is significantly faster, cheaper and more effective than before. All bookings are combined in one interface – even those offline bookings that are still carried out by the travel agent. This way the fashion company does not only profit from its lean business travel process but it also notices the progress in its numbers: since the travel agent optimizes its own processes and lowers costs, it is able to offer his clients lower transaction fees.
„With VICTOR we are already very close to the ideal business travel process.“
Member of the executive board at Lufthansa
Are these just dreams of the future? Not quite. Together with Lufthansa City Center, PASS has developed the travel management system VICTOR. The Lufthansa City Center is, headquartered in Munich, with USD 119 million in annual sales, is one of the largest private travel agents in Germany, attending to companies such as Allianz, Fujitsu, and Sankyo Pharma. VICTOR (Virtual Corporate Travel Organizer) is a web-based travel management system that integrates business trip bookings and all related processes within one application. Since mid 2011, VICTOR has been running pilot operations with three of Lufthansa City Center's customers, and there "it is working fabulously", according to Mark Ludwig, member of the executive board at Lufthansa City Center.
Integration of offline and online bookings
One of the highlights of the new product PASS provides according to the software-as-a-service principle is the integration of offline and online bookings in an application. Even if clients want to book more and more online - offline booking will always be of great relevance, according to the experts at the Munich travel agency. Travelers, travel managers and travel agency employees, however, do not want to differentiate between online and offline booking. Mark Ludwig: "In terms of the support of the traveler, it is not relevant how the booking was made." VICTOR opens the way to all sources of supply. Thus Mark Ludwig appreciates the flexibility and openness of the PASS solution: "VICTOR is multi-GDS-compatible, and all relevant providers can be included - at a manageable effort".
Lufthansa City Center has decided to use the new tool VICTOR and thus has decided against existing travel management systems, since according to Ludwig, with the PASS solution not only the customer's but also the travel agent's workflow is optimized. The requirements that a travel agent has towards such a system would be "met to a significantly higher extent". For instance, Lufthansa City Center is able to make several offers to the traveler by means of the system, which the customer then can select himself directly. Offers that are not taken will automatically expire. On top of everything, says Ludwig, VICTOR is simply more affordable than the usual systems.
An efficient cooperation
VICTOR's pilot operations at the three customers of Lufthansa City Center are currently providing "crucial information" about the further expansion of the solution. Ludwig estimates that thanks to the modern software architecture (SOA) and the modular build-up of the PASS product, it would not be long until new developments would be implemented. Ludwig assures: "PASS keeps their promises, and it all happens fast." When it comes to cooperation, there is a lot of complementing one another, he says: his company provides the operative travel agent competence; the focus of PASS is their IT know-how. Mark Ludwig: "We are convinced that the technology that is behind VICTOR is currently the most modern in the market."
Also due to the fact that the VICTOR pilot project started off well, Lufthansa City Center reports an increasing external interest in the new one-stop shopping system in terms of business travel. The Lufthansa City Center office and also other offices in the franchise group are currently looking at VICTOR. Both from companies and potential customers, Lufthansa City Center reports great interest in process optimizations. There is an incredible number of companies, says Ludwig, which have the new design of often antiquated processes concerning business travel booking on their agendas. These customers show considerable interest in VICTOR. Lufthansa City Center also applies VICTOR with customers who book a lot offline. Therefore, the application contributes to increase those customers' online bookings. Thanks to the standardized order processes, the traveler, who has booked offline so far, is introduced to online booking.
A mobile access to VICTOR is currently being developed. Once it is completed, the scenario that was described above will not be dreams of the future at all anymore. "With VICTOR", knows Mark Ludwig, "we are already very close to the ideal business travel process."