By Sergio Fierens, senior director, technology, Egencia
- With an increased number of travel restrictions, related but not limited to COVID-19, what is Egencia doing to help travellers make confident decisions about current and upcoming travel plans?
Specifically, for COVID-19, Egencia has launched the Egencia® Travel Advisor, to help our customers better mitigate risks by researching any restrictions in place for a particular travel plan. The tool provides information about COVID-19 related restrictions, including border restrictions, quarantine policies, required health or health care documents, and PPE or mask mandates. The tool also includes information about other potential risks, giving users access to all types of emergency information in one in place, making business risk management processes easier.
Corporate travellers, arrangers, HR professionals and travel managers can search and access advisory information for any origin and destination. The information in the Travel Advisor is sourced and curated by Egencia’s Crisis Management Team, the Expedia Group Government Affairs team and 3rd party emergency content providers like Sherpa.
Egencia uses machine learning to present a list of suggested locations, specially selected for each user, based on past, current and predicted travel patterns. This allows all business units to become proactive risk managers in support of the travel management process.
- Besides research tools, how is Egencia providing timely and relevant information to users when they book their travel?
In addition to planning and research tools, Egencia has embedded advisories in the shopping experience, helping with the decision-making process. Egencia surfaces restrictions and emergency alerts that apply to the traveller’s origin and destination, based on the travel dates provided during the shopping experience.
Moreover, Egencia is part of Expedia Group, one of the world’s leading travel companies. Through that connection, information about health and hygiene standards and protocols comes directly from suppliers. Egencia displays the restrictions and amenities applicable for specific flights, hotels, car hire or train journeys during shopping.
The advisory information is integrated into the Egencia SaaS corporate travel solution, making it easier for travel managers, arrangers and travellers to stay up to date on the latest advisories by surfacing information in the booking experience. It is also fully embedded throughout the Egencia global platform, including in the itinerary page, mobile app and virtual agent.
- What about beyond the booking experience? How can travellers access advisory information after they have booked?
While restrictions and regulations change, the trips web page and the trips screen in the mobile app will always display up-to-date alert information.
After booking, the user receives confirmation emails that contain the relevant restrictions that apply to the travel at the time of purchase. Restrictions and mandates around the globe change frequently and suddenly; that’s why four days before departure we send a “Get Ready to Go” email with updated advisory information.
Moreover, Egencia® Travel Advisory has been built into the Egencia virtual agent experience. The virtual agent will recognise whether the user has booked travel to destinations that have active alerts and automatically volunteer advisory information on those destinations. It will also detect a user’s intent to ask for details about travel advisories and point out relevant tools and content. Users can chat with the virtual agent experience to act on those advisories, making changes to their travel plans as needed.
- After a new restriction or alert is raised, how can travel managers identify and reach out to the affected travellers?
Travel managers count on the Egencia Traveller Tracker to determine who is (or who will be) affected by a new restriction or mandate. They can search globally or by a specific country, city, airline or area on the map. Sorting and filtering capabilities that allow users to further refine their searches have recently been added for better risk mitigation and management.
Once travellers whose journeys may be impacted by a new restriction or alert have been identified, the travel manager can access their contact information or contact them directly from the Egencia Traveller Tracker tool. Travel managers can either send out an email or send an emergency push notification to those who have the Egencia app installed on their mobile device. In that way, the travel manager can provide specific guidance regarding the disruption.
Travel managers can view all messages sent from Egencia Traveller Tracker in the last 60 days, including timestamps, channels used (email or push notification) and if (and when) the travellers have read the message. Through this reporting, they can help to validate knowledge transfer and support due diligence.
- After the travellers impacted by the restrictions are safe, the second priority for travel managers is to minimise future and financial risk on their travel programmes. What tools do they have to take proactive action?
Egencia customers have access to a large depth and breadth of policy, approval and reporting features and continue to enrich these capabilities, making it easier for users to operate with a high number of restrictions worldwide — many of them changing frequently and suddenly.
Egencia has improved settings and added new features to facilitate defining out-of-policy routes and destinations, including the capability to apply risk assessments such as corridor exceptions for those trips. New features also include security approvals flows. When activated, these flows require authorisation from security managers or other stakeholders for all bookings in restricted destinations.
These capabilities are all easily accessible from Egencia® Travel Advisor and the resource dashboard in Egencia Traveller Tracker, putting disruption management tools at travel managers’ fingertips whether you’re a small business or a large international corporation.