The move has been encouraged by complaints from travellers and agents that current systems were confusing and hard to navigate. As a specific example, some travel agents had complained that booking a simple trip could take hours, when the deal should have been completed in minutes. This had led to a significant drop in consumer satisfaction.
The government has sourced a new civilian travel platform from Concur Technologies that will use a new cloud solution to help ease online booking processes. It is expected that the solution will provide more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, automate expense reporting, and provide mobile features for employees while they undertake travel.
The contract was awarded to Concur Technologies in June. The 15-year, $1.4bn contract effectively replaces three long-established e-travel vendors, CWT Sato Travel, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems and HP Enterprise Services. Concur Technologies will now provide the services that were previously provided by them, along with new solutions.
The new system is to be implemented by all non-defence agencies, and the government has made it mandatory that all civilian agencies must transition to the new system. Agencies are to begin deploying the second-generation E-Gov Travel Service (ETS2) by 2013.
The travel and expense management system offers a better display of pricing options, and options for travel arrangements will be listed in a matrix format. All travel reservation data and alternative choices are included for review in employee travel authorisations.
The government expects the booking tool’s enhanced features to enable more online transactions and to slowly diminish the use of travel agents.