Employee Experience

Frictionless Business Travel? Yes, Please: An SAP Concur Podcast Conversation with American Airlines

Kathryn Kamin |

The onset of the pandemic took online interactions to a new level, and organizations around the world urgently sought ways to improve the digital experience for customers and employees alike. Even as business travel became increasingly complicated, American Airlines prioritized a frictionless process to make everything customer-centric.

By anticipating needs and building in what’s available for business travelers, it’s easier than ever for those on the go to make changes and remain flexible. Moreover, improvements that account for wellbeing enable employees to feel valued, especially as they resume traveling for business and start to think about the post-pandemic era.

Anshuman Singh, Director of Digital Product Management and Experience at American Airlines, shared how they delivered a seamless and safer online booking experience amidst the global pandemic with Jeanne Dion, Director of the Value Experience Group at SAP Concur.

You can listen to this episode on Apple | Amazon | Spotify | Listen Notes | Acast | Google or read the transcript.

Smart, Simple and Customer-Centric

Changing the booking experience for corporate travel is a hefty undertaking, and there are so many aspects to consider. To eliminate friction, “there is one code principle that we always abide by, which is trying to keep the customer at the core,” Singh says.

To make the most of their limited budgets and resources, organizations can help business travelers by including all available features at every touch point of the booking process. This setup simplifies the travel experience for employees and increases efficiency across departments. “If that sense of smartness is already built in and you know what you have at your disposal,” Singh says, “then the only decision you need to make is whether you want to actually go ahead with it or not.”

“You don’t have to spend time thinking about other things,” he adds, “and I think that level of simplicity and ease of use drives greater adoption.”

Frictionless at Your Fingertips

While the booking experience makes it easier for business travelers to change their flights, upgrade to a different seat, or select other add-ons, everything they tap falls within the organization’s established parameters. “It’s not part of the corporate policy if it’s not within the duty of care elements, or if it’s not ensuring that a customer could actually go do that,” Singh says. “Ultimately, that’s not the experience or the friction we want to create.”

This seamless setup has additional benefits from a management perspective, too. An organization-wide adoption of the experience is especially pertinent for spend visibility, along with control and compliance.

As Singh notes, “It’s all about the limited resources or time that you have at your disposal.”

A New Baseline for Better Travel

As the world slowly opens, employees and organizations alike have a new perspective on work and health. With work-from-home and hybrid work trends skyrocketing, employees may be starting their trips from places other than the city where the organization’s headquarters are located. “It’s required for us to think about our business in ways that we didn’t have to think through [in the] pre-pandemic era,” Singh notes.

The shifts have spurred new innovations that help increase flexibility and create a sense of safety for travelers. Using biometrics to scan images and reduce the need to take out passports could be another advancement that further streamlines the travel experience, Singh notes. And he’s glad that the company is on the path it’s on today to make life easier for customers across their journey.

“One silver lining,” he notes, “is that it’s helped us expedite and fuel a lot of that innovation for the benefit of the customer, for their ease.”  

Find out more about how you can leverage the partnership between SAP Concur and American Airlines to help your organization adopt a customer-focused, flexible travel system.

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