IT fights for flights

K: Don’t exclude IT from travel purchasing

The exclusion of IT departments from the purchasing of self-booking travel applications is hampering adoption by employees, a survey has found.

Self-booking travel tools are in-house applications which allow consistency in travel purchasing by offering combined accommodation and travel fares from multiple vendors and travel agents.

According to Amadeus Asia Pacific e-commerce vice president Peter Smith, IT must be involved in application purchasing because the tool may need to integrate with proprietary or legacy systems and multiple departments.

"Business must involve IT departments in purchasing decisions [for self-booking tools] because operation requirements need to be defined as well as integration [requirements]," Smith said.

"Business needs to look beyond user-friendliness [because] the applications will usually integrate with HR and ERP systems and, because of the [generally large] scale of these companies you can't tear apart proprietary systems at the core.

Those that have IT leading research and vendor selection will have a higher adoption rate and minimal integration problems because they will understand the advantages and [shortcomings] of the tool."

Amadeus e-Travel division national business manager Andrew Knowlman said business should mandate use of purchased travel applications over Web purchasing similar to other processes.

"This may well be an eternal debate, but one point is worthy of consideration: employees do not have a choice at work regarding use of most company processes and tools [such as] annual leave and company vehicles," Knowlman said.

"[While] average industry adoption sits at only 20 percent, travel is treated differently, the feeling being that travellers have individual preferences and needs, and booking travel can be emotional."

An October 2005 global survey of 123 travel managers commissioned by Association of Corporate Travel Executives and Amadeus found 49.6 percent of respondent companies excluded IT from purchasing of self-booking travel applications.

The report indicated almost half of the respondents said the IT department was completely uninvolved or only marginally involved in strategic sourcing for travel technology.

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