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CTM launches its online booking tool ‘Lightning’ in the UK

Corporate Travel Management (CTM) is aiming to transform the UK corporate technology landscape with the launch of ‘Lightning’, its next-generation proprietary online booking solution. Developed in-house by CTM, ‘Lightning’ is the first online tool to apply a consumer-led approach to the business travel booking process, delivering a fast, agile and intuitive online experience to the corporate user.

According to CTM, the tool is the fastest in the corporate market as bookings – whether flight, hotel, car rental or rail – can be completed in less than 60 seconds.

Lightning puts the user front and centre of the booking experience. It’s intuitive interface uses an innovative ‘basket’ feature and filter options normally only associated with online retail apps and leisure travel portals. The user adds chosen flights, hotel, rail and car hire to their virtual shopping cart, then goes to ‘check-out’. However, the tool is also fully tailored to each client’s travel policy and approval processes

A key advantage of Lightning is that it is fully integrated with CTM’s suite of Smart technology tools, in particular Smart Forecaster, enabling the user to search a horizon of fares on a range of dates up to 21 days in advance of travel. Smart Forecaster gives the user real time visibility over a window of dates and is presented graphically – the user moves the ‘slider’ across each date on the screen to see the corresponding air fares for travel on a particular date. This empowers the user to decide the optimum dates for travel and visually influences them to make cost-effective choices.

Tom Clark, Global Head of Technology, Corporate Travel Management explains: “In the corporate market today, clients are demanding even greater automation to meet the needs of their increasingly tech-savvy travellers. Many global TMCs are getting left behind as they struggle with layers of bureaucracy and obsolete travel products.  The consumerisation of corporate travel technology has only just begun. Here at CTM, we believe that big change is upon us and we aim to lead that change through deep innovation and forward thinking.

“CTM identified that as millennials become greater stakeholders in company decision-making processes, a shift is occurring in corporate travel procurement. Corporate travellers were unable to access the fast, intuitive services they experienced and expect from leisure travel. The corporate travel industry was failing to meet their clients’ expectations for quick, intuitive and personalised technology,” says Clark.

“We have therefore developed Lightning as the next-generation of corporate self- booking tool as it puts the user front and centre of the booking experience. It’s the first tool to consumerise the corporate travel booking process with an interface that features options normally associated with retail sites that will simplify and speed up the booking process. For example, the user can search via most direct route, earliest departure, by airline, by number of stops. Lightning’s integration with our Smart Forecaster tool is also a game-changer in booking business travel as the user can search a horizon of dates at the ‘intent to travel’ stage and make a cost-effective, informed decision about when to travel before making the booking.”

Other innovative features of Lightning include:

  • Complete fare search display configuration and policy compliance at point of sale
  • The traveller or booker has complete flexibility on combining outbound and return fares. For example the user can book an outbound flight with a scheduled carrier and return with a low cost airline.
  • Lightning also searches across a range of day & time windows. For example the ‘Time of Day’ filter option gives the user a quick convenient search/view in one hit of flights between 12am-12pm, 12pm-7pm and 7pm-12am.
  • The ‘View Cheapest’ button provides a one-stop-shop for the cheapest fare per carrier on a particular day, driving cost savings and compliance.
  • Flight departure reliability – the user can hover over a chosen flight/fare and Lightning shows as a percentage, how regularly that particular flight departs on time
  • A heart icon alongside a fare indicates whether the flight is among the client’s preferred airlines (ie within policy)
  • Users have access to non-GDS accommodation inventory, including complete integration to Expedia hotel content
  • Missed savings are highlighted by prompting the user. E.g. if the user searches for a BA flight, Lightning will show alternative cheaper fare options. The user can quickly switch to the cheaper option, without having to start the search process again.
  • Bundled bookings capability – most OBTs only have the functionality for the user to make a booking for one passenger at a time. Lightning allows the user to book up to nine people at the same time, but manage itinerary, approvers, reporting and form of payment for each person individually.

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About CTM

CTM is an award-winning provider of innovative and cost-effective travel management solutions to the corporate market. Its proven business strategy combines personalised service-excellence with client-facing technology solutions to deliver a return-on-investment to clients.  Headquartered in Australia, the company employs more than 2,200 staff globally and services clients in 83 countries. For more information, visit www.travelctm.com.