Plugging its Cytric Travel & Expense platform directly into Microsoft 365 is a clever move from Amadeus, but is there a risk business trips lose their appeal when positioned so closely next to the option of virtual meetings using Teams?
Global consulting giant Accenture and Spain’s Melia Hotels International are now using new travel booking technology provided by Amadeus, whose partnership with Microsoft has entered a new phase.
Amadeus has been alluding to a range of new features that could emerge from its Microsoft partnership for several months — most recently around metaverse meetings. But on Tuesday it revealed it had now integrated its online booking tool, Cytric Travel & Expense, into the Microsoft 365 platform, which includes familiar tools like Teams and Outlook — including its calendar. The new platform is called Cytric Easy.
Skift understands Accenture has become a customer of Cytric, and it will roll it out across 53 markets, beginning in the UK and Ireland. At first it will use it for travel only, but is later expected to include expenses.
The consulting giant, which spent $1.27 billion on global travel and expense in 2019 according to a BTN Top 100 ranking, has carried out a pilot launch in one market, and was beginning in a second market. These are relatively small pilots, given the low volume of travel, a spokesperson told Skift. In 2020, Accenture spent $467 million on global travel and expense, according to another BTN compilation.
UK agency consortium Focus Travel Partnership also announced it would resell and promote Cytric Travel & Expense last week, with Sunways Business Travel the first agent to implement it. “The Focus board of directors alongside the technology steering group felt that Cytric was one of the strongest contenders in the market, and they are keen to promote this solution among our travel management company community,” said Abby Penston, CEO of Focus Travel Partnership.
As well as being a customer, Accenture has a well established partnership with Amadeus, developing airline solutions and helping it migrate its Navitaire system to Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology platform.
Accenture has a 170-strong team working on Cytric, it revealed at Amadeus’s Ignite conference on Tuesday. “We’re helping Amadeus on this journey, working as one team with Amadeus and Microsoft, and bringing our capabilities to understand the user, design the end-to-end user experience, then bring in all the data and analytics to support it, said Miguel Flecha, managing director, travel and hospitality lead for Europe, at Accenture. “Then we’re reengineering the Cytric platform.”
Less Travel, More Work?
Cytric wants to address the “hybrid workplace paradox,” according to its executive vice president. In a recent customer poll, 70 percent of employees said they wanted more flexibility to work remotely, but at the same time the same proportion wanted more face-to-face interactions.
Now Amadeus has moved on to developing products that will leverage Microsoft’s widely used business tools. “Employees don’t have to learn how to use Teams, or the calendar. That’s really the upside,” Rudy Daniello, executive vice president, Amadeus Cytric Solutions, told Skift prior to the Ignite conference.
Users will be able to access Cytric Easy through Microsoft’s single sign-on service. “It’s bringing travel payment and expense to where the employees are, which is the most successful digital platform in the world, Microsoft 365. There’s no need to toggle between applications,” he added.
As well as removing friction, there are other new features designed to maximize employee collaboration. A “Share my trip” function will allow users to send details of their plans, so others can book the same flight and hotel. A “Match my trip” feature will allow users in other locations to look up the best flights that land about the same time.
The app can also prompt colleagues to share a cab. “Some corporations have a multi-million euro taxi budget. With ‘Share my ride’ you could drop it by 20 percent,” Daniello added.
Other features in development include Outlook calendar invites that populate relevant data before starting the search process, such as preferred departure location, destination based on meeting location and dates. Microsoft Teams will also send users prompts to visualize unassigned receipts, complete their expense reports, and file them on time.
Further ahead, the platform could suggest physical meetings for a user, if it sees that someone has not met people they’ve frequently interacted with virtually for a while, or even notify them if colleagues are traveling to the same city. “We’re improving the predictable, so the travel agencies can concentrate on adding high-value services, complex itineraries. We’re not going against them, we’re streamlining what can be automated,” Daniello said.
Melia’s global hotel technologies director said Cytric would help the hotel group have a standardized way of working, that would streamline communications. “That can enable us to support our workforce,” said Tomeu Fiol at the Ignite conference.