Meritor is a leading commercial vehicle components manufacturer, headquartered in Troy, Michigan, USA. The company operates globally, with 10,000 employees working across 19 countries.
In early 2011, Meritor wanted to improve its corporate booking processes and compliance levels. The company knew that by taking its global travel program to the next level, there were opportunities to enhance service and save costs. So, Meritor decided to hire a new Global Travel Manager to tighten up its global travel program.
The Global Travel Manager suspected the problem stemmed from Meritor’s use of three different global distribution systems (GDSs). The company’s travel expense management system, Concur, would point to different distribution systems based on the configuration set for each country, generating very inconsistent search results.
“The problems were particularly noticeable when travelers were working together to book flights and hotels. Each traveler would get different flight details, prices and hotels in their search results, making it really difficult to organize group trips.”
Consequently, the Global Travel Manager spent six months designing an optimal travel program, adjusting settings in the Concur tool, and testing the performance of the three GDSs they were using.
Faster, broader, smarter experience with Travelport Smartpoint
Meritor’s Global Travel Manager used comparative analyses to formally assess a number of GDS activities. This included response times, the variety of air fares each could retrieve (working with top city pairs), and the types of hotel content generated. The findings proved remarkable.
“Travelport outstripped the performance of the other two GDSs in virtually every way.”
What first impressed the Global Travel Manager was how fast Travelport’s systems responded to user requests. “It is easily 10- 15% faster than the other systems. Time after time, Travelport delivered a response within 9-11 seconds, while the other GDSs took between 12-15 seconds.”
They also found more promotional hotel rates through Travelport. “The average GDS contains between 80,000 and 90,000 hotels. If the GDS can’t sift through those and find the best rates, people give up and go to the Internet. Travelport repeatedly found better deals than the other GDSs. This helps ensure a company operates within its travel policy.”
The Travelport system also offered a greater shopping window for airfares. “The other two systems only allowed users to search for flights across a shopping window of six to nine hours. The shopping window within Travelport, however, can be extended to 23 hours. With more flight schedules available, users can find better flight combinations and lower air fares.”
What’s more, they found the data handoff to travel agencies was also more efficient via Travelport. “When a traveler calls their agent to book a complicated airfare, the traveler receives the agent-booked itinerary in Concur more quickly through Travelport. This puts them in a better position to get the best hotel rates as they search to add the hotels to their airfare.”
Equipped with these findings, the Global Travel Manager made a business case to Meritor’s CEO for adopting Travelport as its single GDS across the globe.
- Dramatically reduced system response time
- Significant time and efficiency savings
- Increased business agility and partner satisfaction
Increase in travel policy compliance
Upon completing its move to Travelport as their sole GDS, Meritor is enjoying real consistency in global travel booking activity.
Impressively, Meritor has increased its travel policy compliance with air, car, and hotel bookings from 70% to around 91%. Its hotel attachment rate — where the booking of a hotel is attached to a flight booking — is also upwards of 70- 80%. This is another sign of policy compliance, as the level was around 40% prior to the change.
Savings of $300k a year
In addition, Meritor has moved from a call-center based travel-booking service to using dedicated on-site agents. While this service should be more expensive, the new travel program hasn’t increased costs.
“Quite the opposite! By increasing our hotel attachment rate thanks to Travelport, we’re able to retain more of our hotel commission. This, plus other revenues we’re earning, doesn’t just cover the costs of moving to on-site agents — it actually saves us over $300,000 a year.”
Travelport also provides Meritor in-depth data about employee booking activities. “I’ve already used the data to negotiate better corporate rates with a large hotel chain. It clearly showed that we were using their services a lot more than they realized.”
The company is also pleased that configuration of preferred hotels within Concur is much easier. “It’s a breeze — you just put in one code. Before, we needed one for each GDS.” The system also streamlines the hotels’ rate loading instructions to one GDS core.
Meritor’s Global Travel Managers relationship with Travelport is very strong. The company has provided support beyond the technology itself, working closely with the company to identify the best international travel agencies that are powered by the Travelport system.
“It’s a fantastic relationship. They get back to us very quickly, they’re extremely knowledgeable, and they always find answers to our questions. With 37+ years in the travel industry; Travelport is unlike any other GDS supplier I’ve ever worked with.”