1 OCTOBER 2012
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Managing Director JustBook.com
THE LATE NIGHT HOTEL PROBLEM
Stefan is Managing Director of JustBook.com a free app that enables people to book the best hotel rooms, at the very last minute, at unbeatable prices. Stefan has worked in venture capital in London, Barcelona and Cologne and as a management consultant at Oliver Wyman in Munich. In his free time he is a passionate cook who travels a lot and likes to collect new recipes especially from Asia.
The meeting in Zurich was a good one, but it lasted too long. With the rain starting to lash down on the roof of the taxi, it was becoming clear that there was no chance that the team was going to make the last flight back to London. The only option was to stay the evening and take the next flight out in the morning.
As a man who has spent a lot of time on the road, schlepping from city to city as a business traveller, uncontrollable delays and overnight stays are all too common.
When evaluating the most cost effective way of conducting business travel, travel managers are able to secure good hotel rates and ensure company policy is adhered to as long as there is forward notice and planning. However, when it comes to last minute alterations to itinerary, sometimes the rulebook has to be thrown out of the window in order to ensure the employees can be accommodated.
Business travellers who do not have the luxury of having a travel management company can often find that they struggle to keep within company guidelines when plans go awry and they need to find accommodation at the last minute.
While larger companies have the ability to leverage their superior purchasing power so that, even in the most drastic situations, suitable alternatives can be found, many small and medium sized enterprises struggle to keep costs down and remain within company policy in these situations.
So how do companies try to ensure that these last minute changes to itinerary fall both within company policy, keep costs low and ensure accommodation for the employee?
One obvious answer is to utilize mobile technology. A recent survey of UK business travellers by the Sheraton hotel brand, revealed an increased use of tablet devices such as iPads on business trips instead of laptops.
By utilising this natural adaptation of mobile devices, companies can guide their employees in times of emergencies by recommending tools and systems that they know will deliver quality at affordable costs. Employees want to feel that they have some control over the changing situation and empowered with the correct tools and information they can make an informed decision that will both satisfy their needs and those of the company.
We have found that in mainland Europe and America, companies have successfully implemented similar strategies that allow their travellers to use last minute online booking systems that guarantee standards and cost savings – strangely though, this has not transferred so well into the UK market.
In mainland Europe and America, companies have successfully implemented similar strategies that allow their business travellers to use last minute consumer online booking systems that guarantee standards and cost savings.
In comparison this is a new concept in the UK, but my belief is that with the right guidance, employees can be shown how best to manage a changing situation within cost and compliance, with the help of tools made readily available through their mobile devices. The cost and time saving efficiencies that can be leveraged from apps like JustBook for instance can have a significant impact on cutting travel and entertainment spend. Technology moves very quickly. In America and Europe our counterparts already enjoy the gains these tools bring. Expect it to happen in Britain too.
Stefan Menden www.JustBook.com
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