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Key Travel wins Innovation Award

01 November 2016 13:30

Travelport and the GTMC (Guild of Travel Management Companies) recognise Key Travel’s success in utilising technology to drive online adoption and efficiencies.

The quest for technological innovation that leads to greater efficiencies continues apace and entrants to this year’s second GTMC and Travelport award have proven once more that creativity, an agile mind and a consultative approach will produce tools that exceed expectation at all levels. And this year’s second winner has built an online booking platform that has inspired notable buy-in from reluctant travellers, while catering to their highly specialised requirements.

“Key Travel’s KT Online has embraced the particular needs of clients in the NGO and education sectors, including the ability to show specialist air fares and their conditions, and produce first class MI, while being intuitive and easy to use. This is no mean feat and Key Travel is a laudable winner of this aspirational award,” says CEO of the GTMC, Paul Wait.

The technology was developed in collaboration with various departments in travel management company Key Travel, plus a steering committee comprising 11 key NGO and academic customers that ran the gamut of size, activity and sector.

After a pilot launch to four organisations in June 2015, 170 customers from the UK, US and Benelux were integrated into the tool. “Online adoption rates have grown by 11% since migration from the old platform was completed this year, take-up has been beyond expectations,” says Saranjit Soor, Key Travel’s chief technology officer.

The Commercial Imperative

Key Travel’s customers require adoption of online tools for greater convenience, reduced administration and lower costs. But because they do not mandate policy, compliance can range from just 20% up to 90%.

To maximise appeal, the tool had to fulfil three main objectives: to be as intuitive as consumer booking tools, with minimum need for training; to fulfil the complex end-to-end budget allocation and approval processes required to comply with funding sources and audit requirements inherent in the sector; and to support a variety of bookers – central travel teams, local bookers/administrators, self-booking and travellers who research their itineraries but devolve booking to others.

In addition, NGOs and academic institutions benefit from specialist air fares that allow favourable conditions such as extra bags, extended hold period and free cancellation. However, third party tools are not designed to facilitate the variety of searches required to identify these fares, display them in a logical order – flexibility rather than cheapest first – nor communicate the conditions to allow easy assessment of value and price.

The Tool

Customers expect to be able to book their business travel with the ease and efficiency of their leisure travel and KT Online combines the required functionality of search, booking and authorisation, with client customisation, ensuring it answers to customers’ needs both today and tomorrow.

The tool has a tailor-made air fare display that uses icons and dropdowns to show available fares, making it easy to compare price, airline, flight duration, fare type and associated conditions, plus carbon emissions per flight. And it allows bookers to hold a fare up to nine months in advance of travel, without commitment to book, and to pay up to 24 hours before travel.

Bookers can also store numerous trip options in a basket, like those on consumer sites, for reviewing and comparing later, before confirming the booking or referring it to a booker. And because many bookers/travellers often book out of hours, 24-hour access is available to all users, whether using their phone, desktop or tablet.

Digital approval is also built in and a basket of options can be sent to the traveller for selection, and on to a manager for approval or further approval, with comments on out-of-policy activity or trip rejection.

Customisation allows ultimate versatility and personalisation, according to client sector, policy, fare eligibility or payment codes. Visual guilt encourages adherence to policy and budget management and streamlined reconciliation complete the picture, all of which contributes to the depth and breadth of the comprehensive reporting suite.


Just six months into the life of KT Online, the benefits are apparent, including: first time adoption in three months by 20 UK/US customers who had previously rejected corporate tools; 11% overall greater adoption with minimum promotion and training; increased use of specialist tickets from 6% of monthly tickets booked to 24%; and 90% reduction in calls to the online helpdesk thanks to the intuitive interface.

As one client puts it: “The difference the new tool will make to the travel team will be fantastic. Bookers have described how clear and easy it is to use.”

Behind the scenes

Key Travel used a proprietary platform, which works across static and mobile channels. This is underpinned by APIs that were developed internally to enable integration into GDS, suppliers and content aggregators. This includes third party providers such as Expedia, and directly with brands that include Premier Inn and Travelodge, to give the ultimate range of content.

Looking Ahead

The second phase of development has already started to provide a new booking tool for agents and mid-office systems, delivering a more effective email- and phone-booking experience and internal efficiencies; full integration of online, phone, mobile and email booking channels; and extended product offerings with a shorter time to market.

Paul Broughton, Travelport’s managing director for UK and Ireland commented: “Key Travel is a worthy winner of the Travelport/GTMC award. It has put the customer at the heart of its offering and designed a product that is flexible, device agnostic and recognises the convergence of behaviour between business and leisure travellers. By collaborating so closely with their key customers they have also been able to design a product that really works for the end user. This customer-centric approach is something that aligns with our values at Travelport and I congratulate the whole Key Travel team on their achievements.”

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