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What Is an OBT (Online Booking Tool)?

February 17, 2023
By Andrew Sheivachman
Categories Travel 101

When business travelers need to plan a trip, they have options. They can book their travel using an online travel agency, they can go directly to a supplier’s website, or use a company-mandated online booking tool (OBT) that allows travel managers to track and manage employee travel.

An online booking tool is a tech solution allowing corporate travelers to book and manage their travel itineraries in a centralized system, while enabling company administrators to manage their travel program.

Many online booking tools also push travelers real-time updates and alerts for travel disruptions, such as flight delays or gate changes. Travelers use their online booking tool to contact an agent at their travel management company (TMC) for support if they need help planning, booking, or changing a trip. 

One of the main benefits of an OBT is that they provide a centralized way for company administrators to manage and monitor the company’s travel program. Features include the ability to set travel policies, address duty of care responsibilities, and view analytics that empower travel managers to increase the overall efficiency of a travel program.

In recent years, online booking tools have incorporated information on carbon emissions from travel in an effort to guide travelers toward greener travel decisions and enable corporations to meet their sustainability goals

What is an OBT for business travelers 

Online booking tools are a convenient and user-friendly way for corporate travelers to book and manage travel. Some of the most important features include the ability to book trips, manage itineraries, make changes, and access real-time updates and alerts for their entire trip. Consolidating all travel management makes it easier and saves time navigating to different websites and calling different vendors when changes need to be made.

Using an OBT to book trips

Booking trips is one of the most important features of an online booking tool for travelers. Business travelers can search for and compare different travel options based on budget, flight times, fare class, preferred suppliers, and other criteria. Bookings can be made quickly and easily with a user experience that makes travel comparisons easy, saves time, and ensures travelers find the best options. 

Another advantage of a modern OBT is presenting travelers with the widest range of options. Platforms like Spotnana show travel inventory from numerous sources including GDSs, OTAs, aggregators, direct connections with suppliers, and more. Access to a wide array of content leads to more bookings made on platform and in policy, boosting the savings and effectiveness of your travel program.

Benefits of OBTs for itinerary management

Managing itineraries is another important feature for travelers. An online booking tool allows them to view their booking history and upcoming itineraries in one place, making it easy to keep track of their travel plans. 

Consolidating real-time updates and alerts in one system also reduces stress and allows travelers to stay updated on their travel plans.

Platforms like Spotnana allow travelers to make self-service changes to their itineraries from the web and mobile app, making it easy to shift trip plans while on the road. 

Better travel experience

Many online booking tools also let travelers access their travel documents such as e-tickets and hotel reservations through the platform, giving users access to  necessary information on the go.

Some tools, like Spotnana, also have the ability to add personal preferences like seat preferences, meal preferences, and more. By automatically surfacing the travel options travelers prefer, Spotnana gives travelers a better experience within the structure of a business’ travel policy.

What is an OBT for travel managers 

With an online booking tool, travel managers have  the ability to manage trips, define policy, and analyze traveler behavior. These features are critical for ensuring compliance with company policies and regulations, while also providing a more efficient and cost-effective travel program.

Program management

One of the most important features for travel managers is the ability to manage their travel program in a cohesive way. An online booking tool allows travel managers to set travel policies and budgets while tracking employee travel itineraries. Robust tools help travel managers to boost compliance with company policies and regulations, leading to a more efficient and cost-effective travel program. 

Modern online booking tools combine travel management company support with online booking tool features, an integrated way for travel managers to make their program successful.

Policy enforcement

Another important feature for travel managers is the ability to define travel policies, including setting up rules for booking flights, hotels, and rental cars, as well as approving or rejecting bookings. Streamlined policy tools increase compliance with company guidelines while also developing a more efficient and cost-effective travel program. 

Spotnana’s architecture allows for dynamic policies that travel managers can set for offices, teams, individual travelers, and more. Policies can be set to factor in sustainability, pricing (lowest logical fare or median fare), and even flexibility based on cost or cabin class. Enhanced flexibility keeps your travelers happy and booking inside policy.

Analytics and reporting

The ability to analyze traveler behavior and spending in real-time is a key function for travel managers. Real-time information allows them to track how employees are using the travel program, identify areas of inefficiency or non-compliance, and make data-driven decisions about improving their program. 

With a clear view of the company’s travel spend, travel managers make more informed decisions and develop effective travel policies to meet the company’s needs.

Spotnana provides real-time analytics with the ability for travel managers to create and export custom reports whenever they need to. Advanced features like custom fields allow a level of customization which adapts to the nuances of every travel program.

Why you need to pair a TMC with your OBT

An online booking tool is a convenient and efficient way to book and manage travel, but it may not be able to fully address the unique needs and challenges of a corporate travel program on its own.

A strong TMC partnership grants additional resources and expertise to address disruptions and complex itineraries, ensuring a smooth and successful corporate travel experience for the company’s employees.

Want to learn more about the benefits of an integrated OBT and TMC? Get a demo of Spotnana today.